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Expert Sources Available on Tahoe 'Angora Fire'

Contact: Sylvia Wright, UC Davis News Service, 530-752-7704,; Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, 530-752-9843,


DAVIS, Calif., June 26 /Standard Newswire/ -- As the Angora Fire near South Lake Tahoe continues to burn, these University of California, Davis faculty members have expertise regarding the Lake Tahoe Basin and issues of wildfires, forest health and water clarity. Also listed are University of California wildfire-prevention resources for property owners.


The fire began Sunday (June 24) southwest of South Lake Tahoe, near Fallen Leaf Lake. It has burned an estimated four square miles of forest and destroyed more than 200 homes.


THE ESSENTIAL ROLE OF PRESCRIBED BURNS -- Malcolm North, a UC Davis associate professor of forest ecology, studies ecosystem response to wildfire and thinning. He recently completed the most extensive study to date of the relative effectiveness of prescribed burns and thinning in reducing forest fire intensity. The results from The Teakettle Experiment, an eight-year study concluded in 2005, showed that fire suppression is the practice most damaging to a forest's future health. In fact, prescribed fires as well as understory thinning best restore the health of the ecosytem. Too much thinning, especially when cutting large, overstory trees, is detrimental to a forest's animal life. North's primary employer is the U.S. Forest Service, where he is a research scientist in plant ecology. Anyone may order a free copy of a Teakettle Experiment DVD at: Contact: Malcolm North, Department of Environmental Horticulture, 530-754-7398,  


THINNING WILDLANDS -- Bruce Hartsough, professor and chair of biological and agricultural engineering at UC Davis, has worked with the U.S. Forest Service and private industry on projects to manage wildlands for both fire management and better wood utilization. When people encroach on forested land, vegetation should be thinned near houses, especially smaller trees and shrubs and vegetation close to the ground. Thinning and/or prescribed fire is also needed in less-developed forests. Reducing the amount of fuel reduces the intensity and rate of spread of wildfires, he says. Contact: Bruce Hartsough, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, 530-752-0103,


SMOKE FALLOUT AND LAKE CLARITY -- When particles of ash and soot fall into Lake Tahoe, they affect the lake's famous clarity. UC Davis researchers are studying how much air pollution enters the lake from all airborne sources, including wildfires as well as automobile emissions and road dust. On Monday (today, June 25), UC Davis researchers hurriedly set out eight additional air samplers around the lakeshore to catch smoke from the Angora Fire. The findings will complement those at two long-term samplers already in place at Donner Summit and Incline Village. In early July, UC Davis will install the first mid-lake air sampler, with a $170,000 grant from the U.S. EPA. A principal researcher on the new study, Thomas Cahill, is on campus today only, then traveling. In his absence, contact Steve Cliff. Contact: Tom Cahill, Physics, 530-752-4674, Steve Cliff, Atmospheric Science, 530-867-2037,  


EROSION AND LAKE CLARITY -- When fires kill the brush and trees that normally anchor forest soils, erosion increases. And when mineral and organic particles erode off stream banks, mountainsides and residential lawns into streams and then into the lake, they affect the lake's famous clarity. UC Davis researchers are studying how much pollution enters the lake from all surface runoff sources. Contact: John Reuter, Tahoe Environmental Research Center, 530-304-1473, Also: (except today, June 25) Charles Goldman, Tahoe Environmental Research Center, 530-400-8105,  




A number of wildfire prevention and recovery publications and videos are available from the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. For more information, see or call 530-757-8930 or 800-994-8849.


  • "A Property Owner's Guide to Reducing Wildfire Threat" -- Pamphlet. Management of vegetation adjacent to homes is discussed, as well as recommendations on defensible space for different areas (also available in Spanish -- "Proteja su propiedad de los incendios de maleza"). Publication 21539 (or in Spanish, 21545), $1.50.


  • "How Can We Live With Wildland Fire?" -- Publication. Discusses the role fire plays in the natural cycle and what choices those who live in the West can make to cope with wildland fire. Publication 21582, $10.


  • "Wildland Fire: How Can We Live With It?" -- Video. Information about wildland fire in California and the choices communities can make to cope with wildland fire problems. Designed to stimulate public discussion and community action planning. Video V97-I, $20. Both publication and video ordered as a set are Publication 21582A, $27.50.


  • "Recovering From Wildfire: A Guide for California's Forest Landowners" -- Publication. Discusses issues that family forest landowners should consider following a wildfire in their forest. It includes information on how to protect property from erosion damage, where to go for help and financial assistance, tax implications of fire losses, how to manage salvage harvesting and how to help the forest recover. Publication 21603, $5.


  • "Managing California's Wildfire Danger" -- Video. Discusses steps that can be taken to reduce the threat of wildfire in California's forests and woodlands. Video V89-BP, $10.