Understanding Fire Regimes in the Santa Ana Mountains and Laguna Coast
Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks (FHBP) has announced the publication of this study, which complements earlier in-depth fire-history studies of the Irvine Ranch lands (2009) and Chino Hills State Park (2012). FHBP considered it important to add to the repository of information about wildfires and ignition points by reviewing 100 years of fire data in these two additional areas. Anthropological and paleontological data show that wildfires have long had a role in ecosystem functioning in Southern California. The study shows that fire frequency and acres burned have increased, to the detriment of ecosystem functioning. The increase can be traced to human actions, exacerbated by climate change and non-usual weather patterns. The study can be downloaded at fhbp.org/publications/PDFs/Fire-and-Water-Quality-Study.pdf.

MORE ON FIRE AND SHRUBLANDS:  Rick Halsey (Chaparral Institute) and Alexandra Syphard (Conservation Biology Institute) have contributed a chapter, High-Severity Fire in Chaparral: Cognitive Dissonance in the Shrublands, to a new book, Nature's Phoenix: The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires. The book presents reports by an international group of scientists on the current paradigm shift in thinking about wildfire and ecosystems. Management of fire-adapted ecosystems has long been mostly focused on fire prevention and suppression. The ecological role of fire has been little studied, especially the importance of high-severity fire to the maintenance of native biodiversity and fire-dependent ecosystems and species. This text fills that void, providing a comprehensive reference for documenting and synthesizing fire's ecological role. The book is available from store.elsevier.com/.

BANNING RANCH:  Good News! The State Supreme Court has accepted the Banning Ranch Conservancy’s petition to review the Appellate Court’s decision on the proposed Newport Banning Ranch development. Background: banningranchconservancy.org/news.html, and dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-me-0821-banning-ranch-lawsuit-20150820,0,2890492.story.

CNPS, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation signed an Amicus Curiae letter asking the Court to do this review. CNPS, CBD, and CERF’s concerns are that: “The Banning Ranch decision also directly impacts the interests of conservation groups because it calls into question well established precedent ... in California Native Plant Society v. City of Rancho Cordova ... regarding cooperation between agencies in protecting resources of the state including rare and special status plant and wildlife species as well as California’s coastal resources, and precedent ... in Douda v. California Coastal Commission ... regarding identification and protection of environmentally sensitive habitat areas (“ESHA”)."

MORE ON BANNING RANCH:If you have not done so, please sign Banning Ranch Conservancy’s petition to the Coastal Commission at banningpledge.com/brc. And thank you!

LITIGATION:  Both the Esperanza and Madrona lawsuits are wending their way through their separate legal paths. See previous newsletters for background on OCCNPS/CNPS’ part in these issues.

CHINO HILLS: Congrats to Claire Schlotterbeck, Executive Director of Hills for Everyone and long-time leader of conservation in the Chino-Puente Hills and nearby areas! She was a recipient of a 2015 Political Leadership Award from the Sierra Club's Angeles Chapter Political Action Committee.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           —Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair

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