Prescribed Fire in Northern California

Smokey The Bear Would Be Pissed.

After 50 years of preaching to children and adults of the dangers of forest fires, Smokey is starting to change his tune about preventing wild fires. Smokey’s not wrong with his ABC’s of fire safety, “Always Be Careful with Fire,” he was just a little off the mark.
Now Smokey is starting to remember that Prescribed Fire, is Good Fire. That (most of) our dynamic landscape is healthier and safer with controlled, low-intensity fires that eat up bio-mass and prevent massively destructive high-intensity fires.

But there is still controversy surrounding a fire-prevention method that involves starting fires. It does sound a bit bass ackwards. The destructive power of fire is something that is hard-wired into our awareness, created by thousands of years of the biological imperative to avoid dangerous situations (like being roasted alive in a wildfire) and it’s easy to see why the idea of intentionally burning can be damn scary.

Especially if you live anywhere near the burn site.

The largest part of this fear is caused by misunderstanding and a lack of public awareness on how prescribed fire not only prevents massive wild fires, but also stimulates a healthy and vibrant eco-system. The First People of California (and other parts of the United States) have been using fire as a way to manage the landscape, stimulate certain foods to grow, and to drive game for easier hunting. And they’ve been doing this for much, much longer than anyone else on the continent.

One organization working to re-introduce the topic of prescribed fire back into our tool set for managing healthy forests is the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.
The NCPF Council is a space for practitioners, state and federal agencies, academic institutions, tribes, and interested folks to work together in promoting, protecting, conserving, and expanding the responsible use of prescribed fire in Northern California’s fire-adapted landscapes.

If you’re interested in learning more about prescribed fire and how to advocate for it’s return to our contemporary landscape, visit NorCal Prescribed Fire Council.

These photographs were made during the recent info-session hosted by the University of California Cooperative Extension and led by John McClelland and Eamon Engber in the Bald Hills Prairie of Redwood National Park. A number of folks showed up to discuss the use of prescribed fire and to explore the Lyons Ranch Historic District burn units to see first-hand the powerful effects of prescribed fire in Northern California.

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