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February 14, 2022

“After the Fires: Recovering California’s Wild Spaces” Virtual Symposium on Saturday, March 5 Addresses Impact of Recent Wildfires and How to Aid in Recovery of Plants and Animals, Build Resilience, and More

By SBBG

Dr. Carla D’Antonio Honored and Keynote Speaker at Ninth Annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium on March 5

Santa Barbara, Calif. February 14, 2022 – How California has addressed the impacts of the wildfires that have scorched the Golden State’s wildlands in recent years – and what more can be done – is the subject of the ninth annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium entitled “After the Fires: Recovering California’s Wild Spaces.” The public is invited to attend this virtual event, held Saturday, March 5 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., which features scientists, biologists, and land managers from the Central Coast and beyond. Advance registration is required and costs $25 (students with valid school IDs are free).

“The focus is on how we can get engaged to help California wildlands recover after fire,” said the Garden’s Director of Conservation, Denise Knapp, Ph.D. “Diverse native vegetation is essential for providing slope stabilization, watershed protection, wildlife habitat, and other benefits that we rely on. We can all help to make sure our wildlands don’t turn into big bare patches or seas of weeds.”

This year’s keynote speaker is Carla D’Antonio, Ph.D., the 2022 recipient of the Garden’s Pritzlaff Conservation Award, who addresses “When and Why Would We Need Post-Fire Restoration.” Eight other speakers present topics including impacts on plant and animals, approaches to habitat restoration, regional efforts to build resilience, and more. The symposium concludes with an audience Q & A with all the panelists and discussion of what we can all do next. (See schedule and program below.)

“We selected Dr. D’Antonio for the Pritzlaff Conservation Award for her top-notch science, inspiring teaching and mentorship, and dedicated conservation leadership,” said Knapp. “Her  forward-thinking approach to ecology has integrated ecological theory with practical and on-the-ground conservation, habitat management, and restoration.”

Speakers come from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB); U.S. Forest Service; National Park Service, Reed College (Portland, Oregon); South Coast Habitat Restoration (Carpinteria); and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. 

Specific topics include post-fire impacts on steelhead trout habitat, resilience of bigcone Douglas-fir trees, use of mapping to inform restoration and engage the public, native and invasive plant responses and management actions, shrubland habitat restoration, and building resilience in our communities. 

About the Symposium and Pritzlaff Award

The annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium, established in 2012, addresses topics that are critical to environmental conservation in the region, as well as nationally and internationally. It returns after a one-year gap in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic. 

Established in 2007, the Honorable John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Award recognizes conservation achievements in California and around the world. It honors the former Garden Trustee’s life-long commitment to conservation and serves to inspire others to understand the importance of conservation and to take action.  Recent winners include Richard Louv, author and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network (2020); Gretchen Daily, Ph.D., Stanford professor and founder of the Natural Capital Project (2019); and Daniel Simberloff, Ph.D., island researcher and professor at the University of Tennessee (2016). (Full list can be found here.) 

Symposium Schedule of Events
10:00 – 10:15 Welcome and Award Presentation 
10:15 – 10:50Keynote – “When and Why Would We Need Post-Fire Restoration?”
Carla D’Antonio, Ph.D.; professor in the Environmental Studies and the Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology departments at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB); and Program Officer for the National Science Foundation
10:50 – 11:10“Development of a Post-Fire Restoration Framework for Southern California Shrublands
Nicole Molinari, Province Ecologist of four southern California forests for the U.S. Forest Service, Los Padres National Forest District
10-minute break
11:20 – 11:40“Post-Fire Impacts on Steelhead Trout Habitat and Strategies for Recovery
Mauricio Gomez, Director of South Coast Habitat Restoration, Carpinteria
11:40 – 12:00“Ecophysiological Responses to Fire and Drought Underlie Climate Resilience of Bigcone Douglas-Fir”
Aaron Ramirez, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Studies at Reed College, Portland, Oregon; and Michelle Wolfgang, Resource Officer at Los Padres National Forest Santa Lucia Ranger District, and former Reed College graduate student under Dr. Ramirez
12:00 – 12:20“Native and Invasive Plant Responses to the 2018 Woolsey Fire (and What We Did About It)
Mark Mendelsohn, botanist for the National Park Service at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
40-minute lunch break
1:00 – 1:20“Post-fire Mapping on the South Coast to Inform Habitat Restoration and Engage the Public”
Josie Lesage, Ph.D., Applied Ecologist, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
1:20 – 1:40“Creating an Ecological Framework for Chaparral Restoration”
Stephanie Ma and Shane DeWees, Ph.D. students in Dr. D’Antonio’s UCSB Lab
1:40 – 2:00“Building Resilience to Fire through the Regional Wildfire Mitigation Program”
Max Moritz, Ph.D., Cooperative Extension Wildfire Specialist for the University of California Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Adjunct Professor for the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, and affiliate of the Earth Research Institute
2:00 – 2:30Panel Discussion and Audience Q & A

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About Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: As the first botanic garden in the nation to focus exclusively on native plants, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has dedicated nearly a century of work to better understand the relationship between plants and people. Growing from 13 acres in 1926 to today’s 78 acres, the grounds now include more than 5 miles of walking trails, an herbarium, seed bank, research labs, library, and a public native plant nursery. Amid the serene beauty of the Garden, teams of scientists, educators, and horticulturists remain committed to the original spirit of the organization’s founders – conserve California native plants and habitats to ensure they continue to support life on the planet and can be enjoyed for generations to come.

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