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Balancing Wildfires and Chaparral


Despite chaparral being California's most extensive, native plant community, it is often maligned as being fuel for wildfires. We'll talk about chaparral's role in the ecosystem and managing the wildland-urban interface.

Maureen Cavanaugh: During an interview on These Days about the recent Santa Barbara fire, there was a mention about overgrown chaparral on the hills. Well, one of our listeners took exception to that report and as it turns out, when it comes to chaparral, he knows what he's talking about.

Richard Halsey says referring to chaparral as overgrown is a basic misunderstanding of this plant system and could lead to land management mistakes. In fact, Halsey says chaparral, which is a native California plant community, gets dismissed too often as nothing but wildfire fuel, and that threatens both the California wilderness and our overall fire safety.


Rick Halsey, biologist and director for The California Chaparral Institute.


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