Woodbury Fire

Two years of back-to-back, record-breaking wildfire activity sparked topics for several of Gila County Cooperative Extension’s popular Thursday webinars. Tune-in at 11 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 5 for an update about the Woodbury Fire, which at 129,000 acres, ranks as the fifth largest in Arizona history. It was fueled by invasive grasses that converted hundreds of thousands of acres of Sonoran Desert vegetation into a carpet of highly flammable grasses and shrubs that burned fast and hot.

Cooperative Extension’s series of free, weekly online presentations are arranged and hosted by Chris Jones, extension agent with University of Arizona’s Gila County Cooperative Extension. To be added to Jones’ invite list for gardening and horticulture workshops, email ckjones@email.arizona.edu or call 928-402-8586.

Please log in up to 10 minutes prior to the webinar; the Zoom address is arizona.zoom.us/j/95997618518. Easier and more convenient direct hotlinks are at extension.arizona.edu/gila, where you can also view previous programs, such as Winter Gardening; Compost Tea; and Payson’s New Fire Adapted Community Code.

The Cooperative Extension website has an array of links to programs, talks and resources for Rim Country gardeners. Links are also conveniently posted each week on Facebook, where you can join Jones and a local network of gardeners and green-thumbed followers at facebook.com/gilaextension

Woodbury Fire ecology

Guest speaker Dr. Mary Lata works as fire ecologist for the Tonto National Forest. A native Iowan, her career started in 1993 with three seasons of mostly tall grass prairie restoration on an internship with The Nature Conservancy.

From 1999 to 2001 she worked for the National Park Service at Badlands National Park in South Dakota and as a fire effects monitor out of Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, which included an assignment on a Wildfire Use Fire, where she became addicted to the study of fire. She did her doctoral research on a full-ride fellowship, and then accepted a permanent job as the fire ecologist for the Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands before completing it. There she managed the fuels, watershed and botany programs.

She ultimately completed a doctorate in geoscience at the University of Iowa, while working full time.

In 2010, with an eye to improving the management of fire regimes on a landscape scale, she moved to Flagstaff as the fire ecologist on the core team for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative.

Desiring to get back on the ground, in May 2018 she became the fire ecologist for the Tonto National Forest in Arizona.

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