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Blodgett Forest Research Station recovers from Mosquito Fire

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SAMUEL ALBILLO | FILE

According to Ariel Roughton, research forest manager for the Berkeley Forests, some research projects conducted in the area can pivot to focus on studying the impacts of the fire.

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SEPTEMBER 19, 2022

Last week, the Mosquito Fire burned through UC Berkeley’s Blodgett Forest Research Station, a “living laboratory” located in El Dorado County.

The research station has been owned by campus for about 75 years with the mission to improve the understanding and management of forests.

Robert York, campus professor of cooperative extension in forestry, said the fire burned about 300 acres of the research station’s main tract. The entire station is 4,356 acres in size.

“The impact there has been two things,” York said. “One is that we’re able to kind of see how the fire behavior is interacting with these different treatments that we’ve done in the past, and then it also will open up new opportunities for research in the future, so there’s a lot to learn about post-fire forest management.”

The fire also burned through the entire recently donated northern parcel of the research station, about 400 acres separate from the main tract.

According to York, the fire burned with high-severity effects in that area, with vegetation mortality close to 100%, which has a big impact on the ecosystem functioning in that area.

“Myself and other scientists tend to think of that extent of high-severity fire as having significantly adverse ecosystem effects, because they’re out of the range of natural variability,” York said. “But it is happening because of climate change and because of fire suppression effects that we’ve had over the past 100 years.”

The Blodgett Forest Research Station is part of the Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forest, which is a fire-adapted ecosystem. According to Ariel Roughton, research forest manager for the Berkeley Forests, this means that in areas where the fire burns with low or moderate severity, the fire behaves in a positive way for the landscape.

The fire has stopped burning through the research station, but according to York, there is still smoldering and a need for active containment efforts. Rain from this weekend is expected to help the containment of the fire, too.

As for research, Roughton said some projects will be negatively impacted, while others can be pivoted in order to utilize the fire and analyze its effects.

“We are already planning on and trying to figure out how we’re going to utilize the impacted areas to enhance our research program,” Roughton said. “We were really fortunate that the fire didn’t burn more of the property and in a sense we’re going to be able to continue to study this huge problem that we have in California.”

Amber X. Chen is the lead housing and transportation reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @damberonradio.
LAST UPDATED

SEPTEMBER 19, 2022


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