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UC COOPERATIVE EXTENSION CENTENNIAL: Eucalyptus fuel dynamics, and fire hazard in the Oakland hills

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Authors

W. J. Coats

Publication Information

California Agriculture 68(3):91-91.

Published online July 01, 2014

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Eucalyptus trees were introduced to California from Australia in the 1850s and have become invasive in some coastal areas since then. In 1973, following a two-year study of eucalyptus stand densities, caloric content of fuel and dynamics of fuel accumulation in the Oakland Hills, researchers recommended a fuel reduction program. Eighteen years later, a firestorm in the Oakland Hills fueled by high winds and dense groves of freeze-damaged eucalyptus and pine trees killed 25 people and destroyed nearly 4,000 dwellings.

1973

“Eucalyptus has been a scenic and aromatic addition to the California landscape for over a century. The rapid growth of early plantations caught the eye of timber speculators around 1900 and millions of eucalyptus seedlings, predominately blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) were planted. They soon covered the crest of the Berkeley-Oakland Hills, and have created a serious fire hazard since that time at the urban-wildland interface.

“… The late 1972 freeze has resulted in a proposed fuel management program for the Berkeley-Oakland Hills. Management of eucalyptus groves is an integral part of such a program. The results of this study indicate that fuel buildup occurs very rapidly in unmanaged eucalyptus stands, and to maintain low fuel levels a fuel reduction program should be implemented.”

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Author notes

Of the article's four co-authors, the two research assistants went on to distinguished professorial careers in forestry and ecological sciences, James K. Agee at the University of Washington College of Forest Resources and Ronald H. Wakimoto at the University of Montana, Missoula.

Ellis F. Darley was a plant pathologist at UC Riverside and did pioneering work on the effects of air pollution on plants and on the overall environment. At UC Berkeley, Harold H. Biswell was professor of forestry and an early proponent of controlled burning for wildland fuel management. When he retired in 1973, UC awarded him the Berkeley Citation, its highest honor for distinguished achievement. In 1994, a symposium on “Fire Issues and Solutions in Urban Interface and Wildland Ecosystems” was held in his honor.

References

Agee JK, et al. Eucalyptus fuel dynamics, and fire hazard in the Oakland hills. Calif Agr. 1973. 27(9):13-5.

UC COOPERATIVE EXTENSION CENTENNIAL: Eucalyptus fuel dynamics, and fire hazard in the Oakland hills

W. J. Coats
Webmaster Email: wsuckow@ucanr.edu

UC COOPERATIVE EXTENSION CENTENNIAL: Eucalyptus fuel dynamics, and fire hazard in the Oakland hills

Share using any of the popular social networks Share by sending an email Print article
Share using any of the popular social networks Share by sending an email Print article

Authors

W. J. Coats

Publication Information

California Agriculture 68(3):91-91.

Published online July 01, 2014

PDF  |  Citation  |  Permissions  |  Cited by 0 articles

Full text

Eucalyptus trees were introduced to California from Australia in the 1850s and have become invasive in some coastal areas since then. In 1973, following a two-year study of eucalyptus stand densities, caloric content of fuel and dynamics of fuel accumulation in the Oakland Hills, researchers recommended a fuel reduction program. Eighteen years later, a firestorm in the Oakland Hills fueled by high winds and dense groves of freeze-damaged eucalyptus and pine trees killed 25 people and destroyed nearly 4,000 dwellings.

1973

“Eucalyptus has been a scenic and aromatic addition to the California landscape for over a century. The rapid growth of early plantations caught the eye of timber speculators around 1900 and millions of eucalyptus seedlings, predominately blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) were planted. They soon covered the crest of the Berkeley-Oakland Hills, and have created a serious fire hazard since that time at the urban-wildland interface.

“… The late 1972 freeze has resulted in a proposed fuel management program for the Berkeley-Oakland Hills. Management of eucalyptus groves is an integral part of such a program. The results of this study indicate that fuel buildup occurs very rapidly in unmanaged eucalyptus stands, and to maintain low fuel levels a fuel reduction program should be implemented.”

Return to top

Author notes

Of the article's four co-authors, the two research assistants went on to distinguished professorial careers in forestry and ecological sciences, James K. Agee at the University of Washington College of Forest Resources and Ronald H. Wakimoto at the University of Montana, Missoula.

Ellis F. Darley was a plant pathologist at UC Riverside and did pioneering work on the effects of air pollution on plants and on the overall environment. At UC Berkeley, Harold H. Biswell was professor of forestry and an early proponent of controlled burning for wildland fuel management. When he retired in 1973, UC awarded him the Berkeley Citation, its highest honor for distinguished achievement. In 1994, a symposium on “Fire Issues and Solutions in Urban Interface and Wildland Ecosystems” was held in his honor.

References

Agee JK, et al. Eucalyptus fuel dynamics, and fire hazard in the Oakland hills. Calif Agr. 1973. 27(9):13-5.


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