Community Conversation on Fire and Flood
Community in Conversation event (Photo: John Palminteri)
By edhat staff
Community organizations hosted a free discussion on the impacts of the Thomas Fire and January 9 Debris Flow.
UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, the Community Environmental Council, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, and the Santa Barbara Foundation hosted a free community conversation in the Museum’s Fleischmann Auditorium on Sunday to hear from local experts and discuss the impacts of the recent disasters two years later.
In addition to the terrible direct impacts of these events on our community, ash from the fire and mud relocated to beaches also affected the health of the Santa Barbara coast and channel. The public heard about the latest ongoing research assessing the extent of these impacts, and what it might tell us about how to improve our response to future disasters.
A series of flash talks by experts in the biological and social sciences was followed by a moderated panel discussion and Q&A with experts and local policymakers.
Dr. Andrew Brooks of UCSB and UC Natural Reserve System stated if 19,500 dumpsters were lined up for 22 miles, roughly from Montecito to Ventura, it would hold all the material that moved into the Carpinteria Salt Marsh following the 1/9 debris flow. Brooks went on to discuss the negative impacts this had on local plants and animals and how to move forward with ongoing changes in climate.
Brandon Steets, Senior Principal Engineer of Geosyntec Consultants, discussed microbial impacts of debris disposal at Goleta Beach. During the month following the 1/9 Debris Flow, approximately 40,800 cubic yards of material were disposed at the beach following proper screenings. He explained the bacteria was elevated following disposal, which is not uncommon, however it was uncommon for the fecal indicator bacteria to remain elevated for the following months. The surf zone was then closed for the following six months. Elevated surf zone bacteria were caused by bacteria in the sand/sediment and there was no evidence of elevated human waste in the surf zone, Steets concluded.
Seven other scientists and officials spoke on topics relating to the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow. The full event is available to view below: