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UC ANR develops online tool to calculate forage loss from California rangelands fire

The Issue

Wildland fires have occurred with increasing frequency in recent years. Most of the affected land is rangeland, providing forage for livestock and wildlife. Forage production can be impacted for three years post-fire. That means that not only is there an immediate and complete loss of forage, but a 40% reduction on average the year following the fire and a 20% reduction on average the second year. Documenting forage loss is important to aid in financial recovery, whether from an insurance claim or federal funding for disaster relief.

What Has ANR Done?

Ranchers and rangeland managers are currently dealing with the devastating loss of productive rangeland this year and attempting to document how these fires impact productivity. UC ANR has produced a publication, ANR Publication 8446, that explains how to calculate forage loss along with an accompanying online tool, http://ucanr.edu/sites/forageloss. The publication and tool were developed using research data collected by UC ANR scientists from around the state and can be used to calculate forage loss across a wide range of growing conditions. Ranchers affected by the Waverly Fire in San Joaquin, Calaveras, and Stanislaus Counties recently met with UC ANR Advisors to determine the amount of forage lost on their rangelands and to determine a value for that forage. The ranchers in attendance had an opportunity to discuss how the fire impacted their ranch and left the meeting with a document that could be used as part of their insurance claim.

The Payoff

California ranchers calculate their fire losses and build toward a more climate-resilient future

UC ANR’s research-based online resources to help ranchers calculate forage loss will increase the resilience of California’s agriculture, communities, and natural ecosystems in the face of rising catastrophic fires. The Elworthy family were one of the ranchers served. They graze their livestock in San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Alameda, Calaveras, and Glenn Counties. The family experienced fire on their ranches in the past and lost all of their rangelands in the Waverly Fire. “We lose so much when our land is burned,” one family member shares. “Insurance companies do not have a clue as to the losses. This is where working with UC ANR has helped us out enormously. They go out of their way to help with forage loss and other issues that come with a disaster. The local meeting they held for the Waverly Fire provided us with information we needed to submit our insurance claim and plan for the coming winter.” UC ANR’s work has expanded awareness of climate risks and effective adaptation strategies. As a result, communities are better prepared and able to deal with the growing risk of fire, leading to a more climate-resilient California.


Supporting Unit: ANR Research and Extension Center System

Theresa Becchetti, Livestock and Natural Resource Advisor, tabecchetti@ucanr.edu
Scott Oneto, Farm Advisor/County Director, sroneto@ucanr.edu
Anthony Fulford, Nutrient Management/Soil Quality Advisor, amfulford@ucanr.edu