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To provide Cal Poly students, faculty, staff and the public with a unique interdisciplinary environment in which to foster the Learn by Doing philosophy by providing educational experiences on a working ranch, supporting diversified agriculture and forest resources while maintaining the integrity of ranch operations.

  —Our Mission

Fuels Treatments in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI): Occidental Arts and Ecology Center

Saturday, May 20th,2023  9:00am-3:30pm

This was an opportunity to learn about how to integrate ecological restoration into fuels reduction projects using a whole systems approach to vegetation and fuels management with the goal of increasing the pace and scale of fuels treatments in the wildland-urban interface (WUI).  
Participants joined this field workshop at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center on Saturday, May 20th from 9:00-3:30pm to learn from experts with experience in the fields of restoration ecology and wildland fuels management. After the tour, participants increased their knowledge of how to design and implement fuels treatments while integrating ecological restoration to increase fire resilience, restore forest heath and improve watershed resiliency.
Brock Dolman, biologist, restoration ecologist,and co-founder of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center shared his extensive knowledge of ecological restoration practices using examples from long term research projects at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. Participants increased their understanding of how to integrate a whole system design while incorporating ecological restoration into vegetation and fuels management projects. Brock shared his passion for this work and several example project sites to highlight the before and after treatments and lessons learned at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center.
Dr. Grey Hayes, restoration ecologist provided participants with a historical overview of disturbance regimes and fire ecology while providing a larger landscape perspective to vegetation and fuel management practices in a fire prone California. 
Time Item


Workshop begins, event registration and sign in

Introductions and agenda review



Fire fears and water woes



Slash trash and biomass: Whole systems approach

12:15pm Lunch
1:15pm Wildland fuels reduction: Oak and woodland burn unit
  Q & A 
  Closing circle and thank you
3:30pm Workshop ends


Brock Dolman, Program Director, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center

Brock Dolman (He/Him) co-directs the WATER InstitutePermaculture Design Program and Wildlands Program. He has taught Permaculture and consulted on regenerative project design and implementation internationally in Costa Rica, Ecuador, U.S. Virgin Islands, Spain, Brazil, China, Canada, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba and widely in the U.S. He has been the keynote presenter at numerous conferences and was featured in the award-winning films The 11th Hour by Leonardo DiCaprio, The Call of Life by Species Alliance, and Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution by Vanessa Shultz. In October of 2012, he gave a City 2.0 TEDx talk. Brock completed his BA in the Biology and Environmental Studies departments at the University of California Santa Cruz in 1992, graduating with honors. For over a decade, he has served as an appointed commissioner on the Sonoma County Fish & Wildlife Commission.

Dr. Grey Hayes, Education and Research Manager, Swanton Pacific Ranch 

Since 1986, Dr. Grey Hayes has worked in and around Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch to train students, professionals, and community members about how working land management goals integrate with ecological conservation. Dr. Hayes’ research has resulted in publishing and co-publishing peer-reviewed papers in restoration ecology of prairie and redwood systems. His experience includes extensive teaching at both the University of California, Santa Cruz and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo on restoration and land management. In 2021, Dr. Hayes and Cal Poly were awarded funding for two ambitious projects: a state-wide fuels and vegetation management workforce development program and a 600-acre fuels management project at Swanton Pacific Ranch and the Soquel Demonstration State Forest. These projects, and Dr. Hayes’ other work, provide Cal Poly students and faculty opportunities for leadership and hands-on experiences in cutting edge practices to increase the State’s resilience to climate change triggered increases in wildfire frequency and intensity.

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