About the William Main Seminar Series

The William Main Seminar Series in Forestry and Natural Resources was established in 1986. The program honors its namesake, a graduate of Berkeley's forestry program, and longtime friend of Cal and its forestry program. William Main was, until his death in 1981, a community leader and president of the Main Industries, Inc. in Bieber, California. In 1986 his wife, Berkeley graduate Rocky Main, and the couple's sons, inaugurated the Main lecture series to provide a forum for exploring topical issues in forestry and natural resource management. The Main series has always attracted a diverse group of people. Past series have focused on the Quincy Library Group, conservation of the northern and California spotted owl, impacts of forestry practices on California's Native American communities, as well as discussion of several ballot initiatives on a broad range of natural-resource issues. The Main series provides a rare opportunity for students, both undergraduate and graduate, to ask direct questions of leaders in their field, both in a formal classroom setting and later in the day, over dinner at the Berkeley Faculty Club. This program exists because of the incredible generosity of the Main Family.

For a schedule of speakers and topics for the 2020 William Main Seminar Series, please check back in the fall of 2019.  For presentations and videos from the 2019 William Main Seminar Series please see below.

 

 

Past Seminars

2019 - Fire Science, Policy and Management in California Wildlands

The 2019 William Main Seminar Series examines the confluence of environmental science, policy and management in contending with the spate of recent fire outbreaks in California.  This year's series will bring subject matter experts, agency leaders, and experienced land managers to Berkeley to speak about their encounters with fire over the course of their careers.  Speakers will discuss the current state of wildland fire management through the lens of their respective fields and expertise. 

 

Understanding Wildfire Spread through Experiments and Modeling

Mark Finney, USFS Research Forester

Although humans have used fire for about 400,000 years, our basic knowledge of wildfire physics is so meager that we can’t answer the simplest question: “how do wildfires spread?”  Some new experiments offer some insights into physical processes that could greatly improve models for prediction, mitigation, and training.  Click here for a recording of Dr. Finney's presentation.

  

Myths and Misassumptions Regarding Parks and Fire

Caryl Hart, Former Director of Sonoma County Regional Parks

"Myths and Misassumptions Regarding Parks and Fire" addresses the impact that public perceptions surrounding parks and fire hazards have had on land conservation, and describe the role parks actually have had in preventing and addressing fire risks. Dr. Hart will present in detail the impacts of the Tubbs fire in Sonoma County on the county’s regional parks system, as well as East Bay Regional Parks’ efforts to address fire risks on its lands.

 

The 2018 Fire Season in Review

Thom Porter,  Director of CALFIRE 

A reflection upon the 2018 fire season, sharing a general overview of the 2018 season, highlighting the many record breaking fires characterizing this season, examining the challenges faced by CAL FIRE in 2018 and discussing the recovery efforts underway now that fire season is over. Click here for a recording of Chief Porter's presentation.

 

Wildfires in Western Canada: Causes, Consequences and Coexistence

Lori Daniels, Professor of Forestry and head of the Tree Ring Lab at University of British Columbia

An examination of historical fire regimes in Western British Columbia, and discussion surrounding the research methods and approaches the UBC Tree Ring lab uses to investigate historical fire regimes and present a cross-scale set of solutions to address concerns about smoke impacts on human health.  Due to technical issues during Dr. Daniel's presentation, an audio file is not available. 

 

The fire problem is a cultural problem—where do we go from here?

Lenya Quinn Davidson, UCANR Area Fire Advisor for Humboldt County

Lenya Quinn Davidson has spent nearly a decade working in fire.  In her presentation, she investigates the impediments to prescribed fire in northern California, explores her understanding of the issues surrounding prescribed fire, and looks at how this understanding has become more nuanced over the last decade.  Lenya discusses her conclusion that the biggest obstacles we face in the West are not operational or regulatory; rather, they are cultural issues, defined by a century-long rift between people and fire, and perpetuated by the professionalization and homogenization of the fire culture.  Lenya also looks at two specific approaches to increase the collective oprerational capacity for prescribed fire and to shift the culture of fire more generally.  Due to technical issues during Lenya's presentation, an audio file is not available.  A PDF of her presentation is available for download here: Quinn-Davidson Main Seminar Presentation.

 

The Community Wildfire Safety Program

Becky Johnson, Senior Manager – Vegetation Management / Community Wildfire Safety Program, PG&E

Becky Johnson spoke with seminar attendees about PG&E's enhanced and expanded Community Wildfire Safety program - taking a deep dive into the work PG&E is conducting to reduce wildfire risks and keep customers and communities safe in the face of a growing threat of extreme weather and wildfire.