Symposium at Sonoma State focuses on ‘Living with Fire' amid climate change

Firefighters, ecologists, meteorologists, natural resource managers and other experts will participate in a two-day symposium on coping with wildland fires in an era of climate change next week at Sonoma State University.

Some 20 experts will address topics such as firefighting tactics, the potential impacts of climate change on wildfire frequency and severity, and how home design and retrofitting can incorporate wildfire defenses.

The “Living With Fire in California’s Coast Ranges” symposium is organized by Pepperwood Preserve in partnership with Sonoma State University, Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, UC Cooperative Extension, California Fire Science Consortium and the Community Foundation Sonoma County.

The symposium will look at the devastating and deadly North Bay wildfires that destroyed more than 6,100 homes in the region seven months ago, as well as the 1923 Berkeley Hills and Marin County fires, the 1964 North Bay fires, the 1991 Oakland Hills fire, the 2015 Lake County blazes and the Monterey Coast-Big Sur fires in 1977, ?2008 and 2016.

“Large, destructive fires will occur again in the future, and their probability may be increasing with the warming climate and expanding human footprint,” the event website stated.

Lisa Micheli, president and CEO of Pepperwood, said the symposium is intended to “raise the public awareness needed to heal and move forward with our recovery.”

The Tubbs fire scorched a broad swath across Pepperwood’s 3,200-acre preserve in the Mayacmas mountains northeast of Santa Rosa, and the research facility is now engaged in documenting wildland fire recovery and possibly developing new strategies for forest management and firefighting.

The symposium is intended for residents, landowners, policymakers, planners, educators and scientists.

It will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. May 7 and 8 at SSU and cost $50 a person for both days, including parking, refreshments and lunch. Fee waivers are available for anyone impacted by the fires or unable to afford the cost.

Registration deadline is Tuesday.

For details, to register or apply for a fee waiver, go online to

A separate $40 registration is required for four field trips on May 9 to Bouverie Preserve near Glen Ellen, the Lake County Valley fire setting, the Pepperwood and Franz Valley area, and Jenner Headlands in Sonoma County.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or ?On Twitter @guykovner.

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