Home » Blog » California forests, fire, and meadows at the 2016 Natural Areas Conference –

California forests, fire, and meadows at the 2016 Natural Areas Conference –


The 2016 Natural Areas Conference (Davis, CA, 18-21 October) was a big success, with over 300 presenters on a wide variety of topics related to climate change, conservation, and natural and working landscapes.The California Climate Hub was proud to be a sponsor and organizer of this conference.

The California Climate Hub team at the 2016 Natural Areas Conference in Davis, CA. (From L to R: Dr. Jennifer Balachowski, Fellow; Dr. Steven Ostoja, Director; Dr. Amber Kerr, Coordinator.)

Though NAC is a national conference, this year’s meeting highlighted California ecosystems: for example, hydrological restoration of Sierra meadows; monitoring endangered fauna in California’s Central Valley; and managing cattle grazing to benefit rare plants in California grasslands.

A particular focus was the difficult question of how to manage California’s water-stressed forests under the assumption that future climate change will bring more droughts like the current one. In the organized session “Forests in the Oven,” researchers presented preliminary data on the effectiveness of techniques such as stand thinning and prescribed fire to reduce drought-related tree mortality. This is an active area of research for Climate Hub affiliates Jim Thorne and Mark Schwartz.

The final day of the Natural Areas Conference also included field trips near Davis. For example, Khara Strum from Audubon California led participants on a tour of Yolo Bypass, a local success story in integrating conservation lands, intensive agriculture, and urban development.

If you missed the conference, you can still catch up by taking a look at the abstract book and videos of the two plenary sessions – freely available to all.