Help track fire restoration with this innovative Citizen Science project!

Last year, over 3,000 acres of Mount Diablo State Park were scorched by the Morgan Wildfire. The fire, likely started by target shooters, caused 75 homes to be evacuated and left the park closed to visitors for weeks. The park is now open and the massive fire scar is beginning to heal.

Nerds for Nature, URS, and the Mount Diablo Park service have teamed up to promote wildfire education and harness the enthusiasm of the park’s visitors to monitor fire recovery. Throughout the park, a series of signs will inform hikers about the Morgan Fire and direct them to a fixed bracket where they can line of their smart phone, take a picture, and tweet it to the MorganFire hashtags (#morganfire01, #morganfire02, #morganfire03, #morganfire04, depending on location). As the area recovers, those picture will be pooled to create a long-term documentation of change.

This is an incredibly innovative use of citizen scientist and I’d love to see more recovery projects adopt this model. The next time your hiking in Mount Diablo, keep an eye for the Fire Brackets. Amy and I were out there this weekend, contributing to wildfire recovery monitoring.

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Stories from the Fleet: The Sea-Above

Fleet is a dystopian maritime adventure in which sea level rise and disease has driven the last survivors of the human race to sea. I’m releasing the story in serials — 3 chapters on the first Monday of each month — on Amazon. Loyal readers who can’t wait for the next installment can slate their thirst with a series of short stories set in the world of Fleet that will be published on Southern Fried Science every few weeks. Please enjoy the forth and final of these distractions, The Sea-Above, where we find out how one of my favorite side-characters survives the fire on Gallant and what happened to the sailors who journeyed into the sea-above.

Amberjack was trapped. There was only one way out of the hold and fire raged beyond the bulkheads. Remembering his training, he found a rag to cover his face and, creeping low, felt along the walls until he found a cool spot.

There were no cool spots.

The fire spread through the ship. It blazed on the decks above and the decks below. He was trapped like a chicken in Gill’s diesel stove.

No, he thought to himself, not diesel. Fizzle.

He laughed at his own joke, then choked as the smoke seeped through the sealed hatch. He was roasting! He coughed again. The smoke surrounded him, permeating the hold. His rag reeked of it. He tore it from his face in disgust. He coughed again and again. He couldn’t stop. He wanted to panic, knew he should panic, but he couldn’t. His head was light. His mind felt clear. He began to drift, backwards. The flames reminded him of his great-grandfather, a man who lived for over a century, and a story he would tell the young Amberjack; a story about other ships, their fleets, and the sailors who rode fire into the sky.

“Did you know, Jack, that not every ship sails on the sea?”

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