View the latest updates and emergency notifications on the COVID-19 News & Information website.
Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems

Camp Fire Water Resources Monitoring and Research Symposium

Monday, June 03, 2019
University Farm, 311 Nicholas C Schouten Lane, Chico, CA 95928

The symposium brings together researchers who have been investigating the impacts of the Camp Fire and other urban fires in Northern California. Speakers will cover a diversity of research conducted on waterways, gardens, working landscapes and the urban environment following the recent devastating fires in our local community. The featured presentations will cover research design, preliminary outcomes and future research needs. The event is open to the public to attend. 

Register(opens in new window)

Registration - Early registration is $50, (before May 29) and includes materials, morning refreshments and lunch.

Parking - There is ample parking at the California State University, Chico Farm. Parking is free for the event. 

Booths - Limited booths area available at the event for educational groups and service providers. Secure booth space(opens in new window). Booths are $200 and include table, chair and one registration. 

Event Manager - Tracy Schohr, University of California Cooperative Extension - or 916-716-2643. 

Printable Agenda (short) (PDF)

Printable Agenda (with descriptions) (PDF)

Agenda - (subject to change to accommodate speakers)

7:30 Booth Set Up

8:00 Registration

9:00 Welcome - Steve Lambert, Chair, Butte County Board of Supervisors

Moderator: Kasey DeAtley, Ph.D., California State University, Chico

Session 1: First Year Findings

9:25 Rapid Initial Response of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Water Quality – Carol Wallen, Senior Biologist, NorthStar and Radley Ott, Assistant Director, Butte County Department of Public Works.

With Camp Fire flames still burning and a smoke filled sky, resources were being deployed in the burned zone to preserve surface water quality. As fire fighters were still battling the blaze and looking forward to a projected storm, Butte County, with the resources of CalOES, launched a heavy feat with NorthStar, Department of Water Resources, Deer Creek Resources, City of Chico, and Town of Paradise to implement BMPs to reduce sediment and potential contaminants from burned homes from entering local waterways. Radley Ott with Butte County Department of Public Works and Carol Wallen with NorthStar will share with guests the rapid initial response of BMPs during the Camp Fire.  

9:50 Short Term Results and Long-Term Impacts of the Camp Fire on Surface Water Quality - Michael Parker, Engineering Geologist, Central Valley Regional Water Board and Alisha Wenzel, Central Valley Regional Water Board

The Camp Fire Emergency Water Quality Monitoring Team meeting was initiated at the request of Butte County under the leadership of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVWB) while the fire was still burning and the threat of winter rains loomed in the forecast.  The diversity of the team helped develop a rapid assessment of surface water monitoring that started with the first rains and went through the spring. Michael Parker, an Engineering Geologist with the CVWB, Redding will share the findings of the in-depth monitoring of surface water by the CVWB and Department of Water Resources (DWR) that looked at pathogens, heavy metals and carcinogenic compounds in the water below the burned structures of Paradise, Pulga, Concow and Magalia.

10:15 Surface Water Quality Lessons Learned from Carr Fire - Central Valley Regional Water Board 

In the summer of 2018, the Central Valley Regional Water Board (CVWB) was faced with surface water quality impacts from the Carr Fire that destroyed more than a thousand homes. At the time, the unprecedented fire provided a challenge to the CVWB to launch a program to investigate potential water quality impairments from an urban fire. With a few months until the threat of winter rains, there was time for planning!  Attendees will hear lessons learned from the Carr Fire for post urban fire watershed monitoring and give a glimpse of results from the fire impacts to surface water quality in Shasta County.

10:40 BREAK

10:50 Assessment of Camp Fire Impacts to Lake Oroville - Daniel Wisheropp and Calvin Yang, Operations and Maintenance, Department of Water Resources

Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted storm water sampling for watersheds draining into Lake Oroville, via the North Fork Feather River and the West Branch of the North Fork Feather River. The goal was to assess impacts to the lake and its beneficial uses as a result of runoff from areas affected by the Camp Fire. Three sites downstream of the bulk of the fire were sampled and one site upstream. Attendees will learn more about sampling results during the presentation from DWR. 

11:05 Groundwater Monitoring in Camp Fire Zone - Scott McReynolds, and Evan MacKinnion, California Department of Water Resources

As evacuations were lifted from the Camp Fire and citizens were investigating the devastation, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) was investigating the impacts of the most destructive fire on our region’s ground water. DWR analyzed water quality in undamaged wells and investigated potential sources for groundwater contamination from fire damaged wells in the region. DWR will share with symposium attendees findings from initial investigations on wells in the region and long term monitoring plans.

11:20 Paradise Irrigation District Watershed Management and Supply System - Kevin Phillips, District Manager, Paradise Irrigation District

The Camp Fire was devastating, but glimmers of success are buried within the ashes. One glimmer is the surface water management system of Paradise Irrigation District (PID) that was spared flames this past fall. Kevin Phillips will share insight into the best management practices employed by the PID that preserved the surface water supply. Additionally, he will discuss research on water quality undertaken by PID and the challenges of supplying safe drinking water to their users with damaged infrastructure.

11:50 Ongoing Water Quality Management with Erosion Prevention - Don Lindsey, Sr. Engineering Geologist, California Geological Survey.

Don Lindsay with the California Geological Survey is going to provide an overview of lessons learned from other fires to anticipate and manage increases in runoff, sediment load, and debris flow initiation within the Camp Fire. 

12:10 Lunch (included with registration)

Session 2 - Urban Fires Impacts on Food and Agriculture

1:00  Livestock Water and Forage Quality Post Fire - Tracy Schohr, Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor Butte, Plumas and Sierra counties, UC Cooperative Extension and Betsy Karle, Dairy Advisor and Glenn County Director, UC Cooperative Extension

As California’s fires filled the air with smoke and ash, livestock producers wondered if there would be ramifications for their forage crops. Additionally, when the Camp Fire burned at the top of the Butte Creek Watershed ranchers wondered if it was safe for their cattle to drink the water flowing downstream. UC Cooperative Extension advisors searched literature for answers, but recognizing a void, set out to find answers for livestock producers. Betsy Karle and Tracy Schohr, local extension advisors will share with attendees results of forage samples and livestock drinking water quality samples taken in Butte County.

1:30 Fire Impacts to Eggs from Backyard Poultry- Maurice Ernest Pitesky- DVM, MPVM, Dipl ACVPM, Assistant Specialist in Cooperative Extension, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.  

Wildfires are a longstanding threat to California, but recent fires, like the Camp Fire, have occurred within urban areas that can result in distribution of ash debris including household hazard waste, building materials, and pesticides. Since backyard poultry forage off the ground, potentially leading to the ingestion of toxic substances present in urban wildfire ash, University of California researchers launched an investigation in 2018 into wildfire impacts on poultry. Maurice Pitesky will share the results of this investigation and future work to analyze eggs from chickens impacted during the Camp Fire.

2:00 Produce Safety After Urban Wildlife – Rob Bennaton, UC Cooperative Extension Alameda County 

The fires that spread through Northern California in October 2017 burning wildland, suburban, urban and industrial areas, created dangerous air quality conditions for the region and left a blanket of ash on the landscape. At the time of the fires, the impact of wildfire ash on the local food system was unknown. Extension researchers will share findings from a civic science research study that explored the safety of leafy greens and soil samples taken after the urban wildfire from local farms and community, school, and backyard gardens. 

2:30 Forest Health Post Fire – Ryan Tompkins, Forestry Advisor Plumas and Sierra Counties, University of California Cooperative Extension and Kate Wilkin, Forestry and Fire Science Advisor for Butte, Placer, Nevada, Yuba, and Sutter counties, University of California Cooperative Extension.

California’s fire problem is expanding and evolving, how we manage our forests is an integral part of understanding our state’s threat with continued blazes. UC Cooperative Extension’s Ryan Tompkins and Kate Wilkin will build connectivity and interaction of fires with land management from scientific findings. They will also shed light on future management and research in the Camp Fire region to build a more resilient community.

Session 3 – Future Investigations 

3:00 Comprehensive Camp Fire Natural Resources Investigation Underway -  Jackson Webster, Department of Civil Engineering, Chico State and Sandrine Matiasek, Geological and Environmental Sciences Department, Chico State.

With rapid assessments taking place from various agencies investigating the natural resource implications of the Camp Fire, Chico State professors teamed up to tackle a comprehensive understanding of the water quality impacts of the fire on local watersheds. Chico State’s Jackson Webster and Sandrine Matiasek have a stockpile of samples that are being analyzed to share the complexity of soil and water quality post Camp Fire.

4:15 Wrap Up: Where Do We Go From Here

4:30 Adjourn

Register(opens in new window)