Friday, June 15, 2018

Building Capacity for Prescribed Fire and Fuel Projects on Private and Public Lands

Field Exercise on Working at Multiple Scales
Lake Chelan, WA

Overview of 2018 National Fire Networks Workshop
By Don Amador, FireScape Mendocino Core-Team Lead
Date: 6/5/2018

As a Core-Team Lead for FireScape Mendocino, I had the privilege to attend the National Fire Networks Workshop (May 22 – 25, 2018) in Wenatchee, WA.   

It was the 1st time all of the five wildland fire networks* - (Fire Learning Network (FLN)Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (FAC Net),Indigenous Peoples Burning Network (IPBN), Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX) Coaches Network, Washington State Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (WAFAC)- met together to advance our collective work in ecosystems and communities in North America.

Attendees at National Fire Networks Workshop
Wenatchee, WA

The Network objectives were to advance place-based work via peer-to-peer learning and by facilitating more cross-network action; strengthen relationships across networks; strengthen intra-network relationships, and facilitate network evolution and improvement; and distill lessons from the 2014 and 2015 wildfires in central Washington.

For me, the networking and/or cross-pollination with other fire practitioners (local, state, federal, Native American, non-profits, et al.) was golden.   Each day was a “full day” where one networked at breakfast – then attended informative modules – and then networked again during dinner and 

 Waterfall at Wenatchee Convention Center

I found inspiration, encouragement, and hope for our continued efforts at FireScape Mendocino.

One of the most significant presentations at the conference was made by the Mayor of Paternos, Carlene Anders, and other members of the Okanogan County Long Term Recovery Group.  The Group was formed in response to the 2014 Carlton Complex wildfire which was the largest wildfire disaster in the history of Washington State.

Slide from Presentation on Fire Recovery Efforts in WA

The presentation included emotional testimony from local families who were devastated by massive wildfires over the last few years.  Disaster Case Managers also described their efforts to gain the trust of displaced residents in order to secure critical resources (grants, donations, volunteers, etc.) to help them rebuild their lives.

I urge readers to visit their website link below to review information and videos about their herculean efforts.

The conference provided a lot of formal and informal learning opportunities to assist fire practitioners and collaboratives build capacity for fire and fuel projects on both private and public lands. 

The Washington State Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (WAFAC) gave an excellent presentation where they highlighted their program.

WAFAC states that fire adapted communities use many tools and programs to better live with wildfire.  The Firewise Communities USA program is one tool available to communities but is not the only tool.  Programs such as Ready, Set, Go! as well as local codes and ordinances, Community Wildfire Protection Plans, collaborative planning efforts, business resilience activities, local mutual aid agreements, fire department capacity, and more all help adapt a community to live with wildfire.

WAFAC also states there is no right or wrong time to become more adapted to wildfire.  And, that communities taking action to better prepare for, respond to, or recover from wildfire can all become fire adapted.  The recovery phase of wildfire can bring communities together just as effectively (and at times, even more effectively) than the time before a wildfire.

Check out more about WAFAC’s efforts at link below:

I believe the various megafires and numerous wildfires that have occurred over the last 3-10 years in the West have created the “perfect political storm” to help foster the political will in Western States to enact substantive political reforms to encourage and support fire/fuel/forest health projects on both private and public lands.

Several political events that might signal said sea change are as follows:

WA Governor, Jay Inslee, Talks About His Support for Prescribed Fire Projects

Governor Jay Inslee attended our event and highlights his/WA’s commitment to support more fire/fuel projects (see attached pic)

Forest Service and BLM Fire Leads from their Washington D.C offices were there to actively participate in the workshop and experience the collective power of the group to effect change to support enhanced fire and fuel projects in the country.

Governor Brown recently issued another executive order to bolster our efforts

Liz Rank, Publisher of the Networker, sent out highlights of a historic “3 week” burn permit in Nor Cal (see narrative below and also link to the Networker)

News from the Field
California: In a show of support for its growing partnership with the Cultural Fire Management
Council (CFMC), CAL FIRE recently issued a three-week permit to CFMC for controlled burning. The burns are part of the family-led burning program of the Yurok-Hupa-Karuk IPBN, and burns enable cultural fire practitioners to revitalize traditional fire practices. Multiple TREX in the area have prepared CFMC to work with families to safely complete these burns.

I believe that FireScape Mendocino is well poised to build on our collaborative efforts over the last 5 years to increase the number, size, and scope of fuel treatments on public and private lands.

# # # 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Post FireScape Mendocino Workshop Report - March 2017

FS Staff Give Overview of Recent Fuel Reduction Project

Fifty-eight people from 17 organizations got a stunning view of small communities nestled between the north shore of Clear Lake and checkerboard lands leading up into the Mendocino National Forest during a visit to the Lakeview WUI Project. The project is a collaborative effort of the USFS, Lake County Fire Safe Council, CAL FIRE and the North Shore Fire Protection District.

Western Bark Beetle
(dark spot in center of photo)

The Forest Service designed the fuel reduction treatments on its land to achieve improved access for firefighters as well as forest restoration. Indoor work during this workshop, which focused on Fire Ready Communities, included shared learning from three collaborative groups – the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership, the Amador Calaveras Consensus Group and the Central Appalachians FLN.

Two USFS fire staff members designed a fun WUI exercise using 3 pans of sand, matches and birthday candles for trees, tiny wooden houses, and a fan for wind. Participants removed “trees” to reduce fuels prior to ignition with a campfire lighter (with a fire extinguisher nearby). Community engagement expert, Jana Carp, gave a presentation on an asset-based approach to community engagement.

Mendocino National Forest Supervisor, Ann Carlson, Welcomes Group to Workshop

Finally, the Mendocino Blacktail Deer Association shared a presentation about the nexus of fuels management with improving deer habitat. The Association has been a financial contributor for management treatments on the Mendocino NF. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

FireScape Mendocino Works to Help Shape Forest Future

Participants Discuss Forest Management Concepts
Upper Lake Ranger District, Mendocino NF
Photo: Kimberly Baker

On April 6 and 7, over fifty-five participants attended FireScape Mendocino’s  8th workshop held in Upper Lake, CA to learn about how we can help shape the future of our fire-prone landscape in and near the Mendocino National Forest.

Guy Duffner Opens FireScape Mendocino Public Meeting
Upper Lake Grange, Upper Lake, CA
Photo: Don Amador

 To date, attendees in FireScape activities have included participants from local governments, Forest Service, state water boards, Indian Tribes, Resource Conservation Districts, OHV, environmental organizations, conservation groups, BLM, Firesafe Councils, private property owners, and other stakeholders.

Participants Prepare for Field Day
Photo: Don Amador

Day one of the meeting included Subgroup updates on recent field trips, conference calls, and work projects.  Those committee reports covered recreation infrastructure, fire ready communities, large-scale vegetation management, communications, and outreach to sister programs.

Bob Schnieder Gives Presentation on Northern Inner Coast Range Conservancy
Photo: Don Amador

Bob Schnieder gave a presentation on the Northern Inner Coast Range State Conservancy.  This is recent legislation (SB1396) introduced by State Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and Assemblymember Bill Dodd (D-Napa). 

The proposal has been modeled after the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.  It will work in a collaborative manner with local stakeholders to help fund important conservation projects that can protect natural resources and help provide an economic benefit to rural areas.

FireScape Core Team Member, Chad Roberts, 
Discusses Forest Management with Group
Photo: Don Amador

Later in the morning, Forest staff gave an update on the Lakeview Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project. The purpose of the project is to contribute to ecological restoration by achieving goals established by the Mendocino National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) for fire and fuels, chaparral, forest health, timber & other forest products, riparian and aquatic ecosystems, and wildlife and fish. 

Work Group Discusses Field Exercise
Photo: Don Amador

The 2,572 acre project includes treatments within the Upper Lake Wildland Urban Interface.  It includes a combination of prescribed fire, non-commercial and pre-­commercial and commercial thinning, hand and machine piling, and mastication and fuel break construction.

On Day two, participants caravanned up to the Pine Mountain area near Lake Pillsbury for a field learning exercise.  Folks were dispersed into five groups comprised of agency foresters, recreationists, fire/resource specialists, local government, conservationists, and other interests.

Pine Mountain Lookout Cabin
A Popular Reserved Campsite
Photo: Don Amador

The groups were assigned to a specific area where they were to share their values, perspectives, and ideas on what a forest health/fuel treatment project might look like.  Issues discussed included needs for public safety/access, restoring land to historic pine and oak woodland mosaic, creating improved current and future forest condition for the Northern Spotted Owl (NSO), economic opportunities benefitting the local community, protection of Native American Indian cultural resources, improving habitat for hunting and other recreational activities, and making the area resilient to both human and natural fire starts.

FS Specialist, Gary Urdahl, Discusses NSO Habitat
Photo: Don Amador

 There was a sense of urgency to the discussions since the Pine Mountain area has not seen fire in the last 80 years and is vulnerable to burning with high intensity if subjected to a wildfire.  This area provides critical NSO habitat, dispersed recreation opportunities, and reserved camping at the popular Pine Mountain Lookout.

The FireScape Mendocino Core Team will be discussing next steps and our continued efforts to engage local stakeholders to help in a long-term collaborative program to support a healthy and fire resilient Forest and surrounding landscape.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

FireScape Mendocino Workshop #7 in Corning - Dec. 2 & 3 - RSVP/Register by Nov. 25

Field Trip from Workshop at Covelo

Please join us in Corning for the seventh in a series of workshops for FireScape Mendocino, Wednesday, December 2 and Thursday, December 3, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

FireScape is a voluntary collaborative of residents, agencies and organizations working to shape the future of our fire-prone landscape in and near the Mendocino National Forest.  Taking the next step in this collaborative effort, our goals will be:

                    Hear from participants about ongoing work related to our shared values and continue refining FireScape Mendocino strategies.
                    Explore potential areas of work near Paskenta and what might be involved in working at a watershed scale.
                    Discuss the summer’s fires and the effectiveness of some readiness efforts.
                    Learn about large-scale fire planning and risk assessment, and discuss its possible utility for fire planning.

During this two-day event, participants will work in both small and large groups, indoors and outdoors. Guided by the best practices of the North America Fire Learning Network, our collaboration is designed to enable people with diverse perspectives to find zones of agreement where we can achieve tangible results in our communities and the surrounding landscape.

We need people...... With local community perspectives... Who enjoy outdoor recreation (camping, hunting, hiking, OHV, etc.) ... With perspectives on living with wildfires... Who manage land - whether it’s a ranch, timberlands or their backyard ... With thoughts about community and landscape planning ... With enthusiasm and an interest in the future of our local landscapes.

All meetings are open to the public and all are welcome to participate.  If you know someone who might be interested in this, please pass along this invitation.

Prior workshop attendance is NOT required – Please come if you are interested! Lunch will be provided both days.

There will be a field trip on Wednesday, lasting much of the day and participants should be prepared for changing weather conditions in the field. The trip will be accessible, not leaving roads or trails. 

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to limited parking/road access during the field trip, FireScape Mendocino will be assigning you to ride in one of the event vans.  The only exception is if you are a government official that may be called to an emergency.

Location & Dates:

Wednesday, December 3 & Thursday, December 4

Corning Grange Hall  
20955 Corning Rd
Corning, CA 96021
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 pm

In order to make sure we have food and materials for everyone, we ask that you register by
Wednesday, November 25. To register, or for more information, please contact Marilyn Perham at
530-897-6370 ext. 200 or by email at

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

FireScape Mendocino Nov. 3-5 Workshop is Postponed to Dec. 2-3, 2015

FS Specialist Explains Wildfire Impacts
at Covelo Workshop Field Trip

Due to the intense wildfire season in Northern California and elsewhere, the FireScape Mendocino planning team has postponed the November 3-5 public workshop to December 2-3, 2015. The workshop will be held in the Paskenta focal area, at a site yet to be determined. Please stay tuned for updates.  

During this two-day event, participants will work in both small and large groups, indoors and outdoors. Guided by the best practices of the North America Fire Learning Network, our collaboration is designed to enable people with diverse perspectives to find zones of agreement where we can achieve tangible results in our communities and the surrounding landscape.

Thanks for your understanding and support.

FireScape Mendocino Planning Team

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Update on FireScape Mendocino, Workshop #6, June 10-11, 2015

James Russ, President of Round Valley Indian Tribes Tribal Council, Explains
Recent Fuel Break Project near Covelo
Photo: Don Amador

More than fifty participants met in the 100-degree heat of Covelo, CA to learn and deepen collaborative relationships with various stakeholders including the Round Valley Indian Tribes (RVIT) and other members of this beautiful community.  The FireScape leadership team thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Round Valley area and looks forward to visiting there again! 

Gary Urdahl, Silviculturist for the Covelo Ranger District, Mendocino NF 
Explains Impacts of 2012 North Pass Fire - Photo: Don Amador

The workshop kicked off with a field trip to a RVIT fuels treatment project, where we learned about a recent fuel break project designed to help protect the community in the event of wildfire.  FireScape applauds the work they’ve done and wish them much success with additional projects and looks forward to the possibility of partnering with them in the future.

Group Discussion at Field Tour Site - Photo: Don Amador

After visiting the RVIT project, we moved on to visit areas of the 2012 North Pass Fire on the Mendocino National Forest.  It was interesting to see and discuss the effects of the fire and learn more about the impact this fire has had both the local community and the Forest. 

Recreation Trail Still Closed from North Pass Fire Blowdown - Photo: Don Amador

An unusual lightning storm system hit the region and started over 20 wildfires on the Mendocino, Six Rivers, and Shasta-Trinity National Forests. Those ignitions lent an increased import to our field trip of the North Pass Fire, which burned over 41,000 acres.  Those events created a strong resolve within the group to work together in our efforts to shape the future of our fire-prone landscape. 

BIA Fire Staff Joined Field Trip - Photo: Don Amador

Classroom work on the following day included time for planning “next steps” for the following subgroups:  Air Quality, Creating Fire Ready Communities, Landscape-scale Vegetation Management, Tribal Engagement, and Fire/Recreation.  Lists of ideas on “what makes a good project” and a brainstorming session of potential projects (complete with marking locations on maps) made for a productive day.

Core-team Lead, Chad Roberts, Discusses Forest Management with Group
Photo; Don Amador

The FireScape Mendocino Core Team will meet soon to compile the classroom product, including submission of a list of potential projects, and bring it back to the group’s participants at our next workshop.  Stay tuned!