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
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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