Smoke dripping down the forest like a gentle mist. Dried oak leaves sing, crack and turn to ashes. Neighbors, scientists, and agency staff lit the fire calmly and carefully. Ted O’Del’s grandson runs along the hill on Henry Hill to fix the tube.
This is Odele property in Plaster County, and five of the 11 hectares are being burned by the Plaster County Resource District, UC Davis researchers and others.
“My goal is very simple, reduce the risk of fire,” he said. “I hope this is a cost-effective way to manage the land. I can’t tackle climate change, but I can make my property stronger.
Watch the burning video here.
Finding a good fire on the ground
California’s wildfires are no secret. Finding “good fire” on the ground, such as prescribed fires and traditional fires, is a key tool to solve the problem. But landowners need help learning how to safely handle fires on their property, as well as maintaining the necessary permits for fires.
From time to time, regional and local agencies, as well as neighborhood fire associations, are creating opportunities to help landowners become a big part of their wildfire resilience efforts.
Andrew Latimer, a professor of botany at UC Davis, says:
Odeel 78, a graduate of UC Davis College of Engineering, grazed sheep and goats, cut down trees, and tried other fire-fighting techniques, but struggled to control property fires.
After hearing about a wildfire in the UC Davis fantasy series, he met a UC Davis fire ecologist. When Saford visited the property, he advised Odele to handle the blaze and ordered the burning of private lands from the Plaster County RCD and the Cal Fire-funded project.
“How do we put a fire on half a million acres of land in California?” Cordy Craig, project coordinator for Plaster County RCD, cited the state’s common stewardship agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. Our goal is to enable half a million landowners to burn 1 hectare. We are trying to provide private owners with the knowledge, skills and confidence to use firefighting and use good fire as a conservation tool.
Resisting community fires
Odel was burned to death on a spring-like day in February. Mineral salads and wild hyenas are emerging from the ground, reminiscent of global warming.
Shortly before Odeel ignited the first flame, a neighbor’s family walked up the hill. They are grandparents and a mother holding her baby. Some neighbors were treated to a fire at their own property last week, and some came here to observe and learn, including Craig, retired Cal Fire Chief Chris Paulus, and several firefighters from the Savford Laboratory at UC Davis. Department of Science and Policy.
He told the group that before the European settlers arrived, the locals were burning the land for agricultural production and other purposes.
Monitoring the prescription
UC Davis monitors the effects of this and many other wildfires throughout the state – from Yosemite to Clamat National Forests and throughout Sierra Nevada – as part of a California-mandated fire control program in collaboration with Cal Fire and California Air Resources. Board.
“Landowners are small but together they form an important foundation,” said John Williams, a UC Davis project scientist who oversees the monitoring program. “Our mission is to see the impact of mandated fires and use the information we collect to help land managers and their owners achieve their ecological renewal and fuel reduction goals.”
Now in its third year, the program covers nearly 600 locations on more than 25 stations in California. Once a site has been identified, scientists and field workers will study plants and measure objects, such as forest structures, fallen wood debris, and vegetation. They record the behavior of the fire during the fire and then return twice – in the weeks following the fire and a year later – to gather information after the fire and learn how the intended burn objectives have been met.
The information they collect will be part of a database that will be used by forest agencies and even landowners such as Odele to have a better idea of how a fire works on property. Such a database will help forests give priority to treatment, rehabilitation, replanting and other efforts.
Too many activities, reasons for hope
According to Williams, people sometimes think of ordered fires as silver bullets to control wildfires. But the task ahead is huge, he said.
“To my knowledge, as a country, we have burned more than 120,000 hectares in a single year,” he said. “There are about 30 million acres in one or more fires due to suffocation. So we have to work hard.
That is, for many reasons he sees a bright hope:
- Local, state, and federal agencies, which have long controlled firefighting strategies, are now expanding and promoting prescribed burns and other treatments and putting money behind them. It may not be happening as fast as we would like to see it, but it is happening.
- Ordered fires – and the smoke that accompanies them – are becoming socially acceptable to residents, many of whom have now seen or experienced the devastating effects of wildfires.
- Traditional burning and indigenous practices are being included and recognized in regional and national forest plans not only to prevent fires but also to reclaim land. “We now have many languages and guidelines to build on these traditions. [non-Native people]At most, it was ignored and tried to abduct him in the worst possible way, ”said Williams.
- More landowners are making connections to return fire to their property, as evidenced by the high demand for TREX events and other delivery efforts. Combined burning associations, such as the Humboldt and Nevada counties, are facing widespread appeal. According to Williams, one-sided fires are a binary phenomenon.
“They cannot identify the burning ordered by their political party,” he said. “These associations are bringing neighbors and communities together.”
For Odel, he hopes he will not need much help to treat his land with fire the next time.
“Am I comfortable? Not yet.” But we do this only to gain insight.