lava beds national monument: Fire on the mountain!

lava beds national monument: Fire on the mountain!

Lava Beds National Monument | Summer 2021 | Blog post #1

Cover picture: one of the 800+ caves here at Lava Beds!

About Me

My name is Ashleyann Bacay, and I am excited to be interning here at Lava Beds National Monument this summer! I was born and raised in here California, and now I can say this is by far the furthest north that I’ve traveled to, worked, and lived in this state. I’m looking forward to adventuring in Lava Beds, exploring the surrounding area in this pocket of California and the country, and being involved in a facet of what post-wildfire resource management looks like through the NPS.

I was born and raised in Stockton, which is located in California’s Central Valley, and I left home to pursue higher education elsewhere. I received my undergraduate education at University of California, Santa Barbara and graduated with B.S. in Physiology and B.A. in Environmental Studies, and I’m currently a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Studies: Wildland Management program at California State University, Chico. 

Why I’m Here

So why am I here? A fire named “Caldwell Fire” occurred in this park during last year’s destructive fire season and scorched about 70% of Lava Beds landscape. Now I’m here for the summer working as a Fire Ecologist Assistant to assess how the Caldwell Fire may have impacted plants, animals, cultural resources, and the cave environment (shortened as “resources” from here on out) in and around the cave. 

You can see a lot of the fire damage from where I currently live in the park. The land is scorched up here, but it is beautiful.

My master’s work is somewhat relevant here. Fire is an overlapping topic with this internship, but my master’s project involves understanding a different aspect of fire—specifically, analyzing prescribed fire liability, policy, and legislation. Though my work for the summer and my master’s project may sound different, I believe that in-field experience and observance of fire and its impacts—whether “controlled” (prescribed fire or cultural burns) or “uncontrolled” (wildfires)—is important in gaining some insight into what the future direction of pre- and post-fire land and resource management may entail. In my opinion, this work will be important to the fire-prone state of California as it attempts to recover from the destructive fire seasons it has experienced in recent years. This is also important for me because, with the exception of prescribed fire training events, most of my master’s work is me sitting down and poring over papers and articles—so I’m always happy to be up and outside when possible! 

With that being said, I’m excited to learn about the extent of the Caldwell fire’s effects on cave resources and am wondering if this upcoming fire season may change the direction of my work. I’m also currently figuring out how I’ll be able to present this summer’s data collection and analyses as a project, so please stick around to read about how this project develops!

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