STONYFORD WORKSHOP: INCREASING SCALE AND PACE OF PRIVATE LAND AND CROSS BOUNDARY BURNING KEY TOPIC
Judging by the number of local ranchers that attended a community workshop near the Mendocino National Forest where bringing more “Good Fire” onto the landscape was the stated goal, the attendees and presenters were ready to get out into the field and significantly increase the amount of prescribed fire on the landscape to reduce fuel loading on both private and public lands. This was FireScape Mendocino’s (FSM) first in-person public workshop since the COVID-19 meeting restrictions were enacted over 2 years ago. The event was held on April 21 at the Stonyford Community Center.
Don Amador, FSM Core-Team Member, welcomed the group of just over 40 people and acknowledged the community’s desire to engage in burning as a form of vegetation reduction and invasive species management with a goal to showcase burning as a safe practice that supports landowner fuels reduction and ecological objectives and recognized the important role and fire history that Tribes have in burning lands for cultural traditions and natural resource management. Those Tribes highlighted were the Pomo, Yuki, and Nomlaki.
The workshop modules started with attendee participation in sharing-out expectations of the workshop. Attendees also participated in a “Good Fire Pro’s and Con’s” exercise that proved to be a worthwhile effort in working through as a group to ensure all were on the same page in terminology and the array of outcomes in using fire as a tool for ecological management.
Jeff Stackhouse, a Livestock and Natural Resource Advisor from the University of California Cooperative Extension and the Humboldt County Burn Association highlighted a number of private land prescribed fire strategies and examples of successful burn projects on coastal grasslands.
The Tehama County Air Quality Control District representative, Joe Tona, gave insights into how the District makes its decisions regarding authorizing burn days and how it works with private and public sector partners.
Frank Aebly, the District Ranger for the Upper Lake Ranger District on the Mendocino National Forest, and several other agency fire specialists gave updates on current and future TREX Prescribed Fire Training project and opportunities for cross boundary burning on private property near, or on matrix lands within, the National Forest.
Ali Meders-Knight, Traditional Ecological Knowledge practioner of the Mechoopda Tribe (Chico Rancheria) and Meleiza Figueroa from the Mechoopda Tribe shared how Tribes have successfully used fire for thousands of years to manage grasslands and forests in Northern California. They also illustrated how their fire projects relied on tribal members of all ages to manage the fire to meet both cultural and natural resource objectives.
Ernest Ceccon, a USFS Hotshot and Fire lead, talked about how a Burn Boss performs prescribed-fire planning, obtains state or local approval and permits, develops and implements a burn plan, monitors fire effects, maintains prescriptive requirements, and conducts an After-Action Review.
Brin Greer, Resource Conservation District of Tehama County and FSM Public Forums Lead, wrapped up the meeting by having the attendees evaluate the presentations for content and relevancy to the community’s desire to increase the number of acres treated with prescribed fire.
In the event evaluation surveys, participant feedback on the workshop was overwhelmingly positive. “All the right people were in the room,” wrote one attendee.
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