by Liz Rank
Sixteen fire managers from Spain took part in a prescribed fire training exchange in northern California in October. The event was hosted by the California Klamath-Siskiyou Fire Learning Network, Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, The Watershed Center, California Fire Science Consortium, UC Cooperative Extension, Redwood National and State Parks and the Orleans/Somes Bar Fire Safe Council, among others. Over the course of the week-long event, the trainees visited and worked in three different sub-regions, including the North Coast, Mid-Klamath and Trinity Mountains, learning about and participating in local prescribed fire management efforts.
The exchange also allowed local practitioners to learn from the Spanish contingent, and provided assistance in implementing burns larger or more complex than local capacity can normally conduct. Jeremy Bailey, who has organized similar trainings around the country and helped facilitate this event, noted that these trainings offer “exposure to new people, places and techniques, so everyone goes home with new skills that can be integrated into land management plans on diverse landscapes around the world.”
Participants began the exchange at Humboldt Redwoods State Park, where they visited the area burned in the 2003 Canoe Fire and discussed the role of fire in redwood ecosystems. They also visited the Wildland Fire Lab at Humboldt State University, and joined local fire managers, students and community members at a local brewery for dinner and presentations about fire management. The following day, participants toured the Bald Hills of Redwood National Park, where prescribed fire is used to restore and maintain oak woodlands and grasslands. This visit was planned to coincide with one such burn, and the 16 skilled trainees were able to support the National Park Service resources in conducting the controlled burn.
The trainees then traveled to the Mid-Klamath, where they learned about traditional Karuk cultural burning and performed pre-treatments for burns planned on private lands.
Finally, exchange participants visited the Trinity Mountains. In Hayfork they learned about the Trinity Integrated Fire Management Partnership, a project that brings together agencies and organizations across jurisdictions to plan and implement prescribed burns on public and private lands. Jose Luis Duce delivered a compelling presentation on prescribed fire in Spain to the Shasta-Trinity’s South Fork Management Unit. The conference room at the ranger station was packed as Forest Service employees, trainees and community members gathered to learn about fire management in Spain. At the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, the trainees then learned about the area’s prescribed burning and fire management programs, and they completed their northwest tour at Redding’s Northern Operations Center (also known as the Geographic Area Command Center), where interagency fire operations are coordinated for northern California.
After leaving California, most of this crew stopped in Massachusetts, where The Nature Conservancy hosted them for another week of burning and learning in a different climate and social setting; from there they returned to Spain, taking with them—and leaving along their path—newfound knowledge and connections.