Organizers are offering an opportunity to learn about and utilize prescribed fire as a means of mitigating wild fire. The event, known as Cal-TREX, short for “prescribed fire TRaining EXchange,” will be held March 25-27, and April 9-10 in Plumas County at the Feather River College in Quincy.
This event brings together fire professionals and non-traditional partners in a joint effort to restore the ecological and community protection benefits of “good fire.” Using an “All Hands, All Lands” approach to increase the number of qualified personnel able to work on professional prescribed fire projects, the TREX model provides peer-to-peer learning and training for fire professionals to gain certifications and experience. It is a model that supports local prescribed fire groups like the Plumas Underburn Cooperative (PUC), which is partly sponsoring the event.
PUC is a local group of citizens who assist each other in the use of prescribed fire on private lands. The group helps landowners navigate permitting, logistics, and provides tools and volunteers on burn days. Many PUC members have an interest in furthering their experience with prescribed fire, so the TREX event is a welcome opportunity to participate in something that is often accessible only to agency employees. The TREX event will include actual burns on different lands locally as part of training.
TREX events usually draw participants from a large regional area. Participants can range from landowners looking to manage their land, to college students earning their basic firefighter qualifications or seasoned fire professionals receiving experiences to qualify as a burn boss or specialized incident command positions. Registration is open until March 4th. Further details about the TREX event, including participant information and registration details, can be found at www.plumasfiresafe.org/trex
After the destruction of the Dixie and Caldor fires, among others that have occurred in recent years, cooperating entities of the Plumas County Cal-TREX see prescribed fire as a critical tool to get ahead of the problem. Fire plays a key ecological role in the Sierra Nevada, but that role has been absent for well over a century. The wildfires of today are a result of multiple factors, but a powerful driver of extreme fire behavior is the accumulation of vegetation (or “fuels”) untreated by what once was regular intervals of fire. The weekend event will be an opportunity for participants to gain hands-on experience, as well as a deeper understanding of the ecological importance of prescribed fire.
Participants in TREX will become a part of an “on-call” team that can be notified on short notice, to catch the “burn window” and implement prescribed fire. The hope is with more personnel available, and the right conditions, there is potential to utilize prescribed fire at multiple locations around Plumas County. Organizers also hope that these prescribed fire events will serve as public education tools to promote the use prescribed fire as an effective means of protecting lands and property from wildfire.
In addition to the Plumas Underburn Cooperative, the Feather River RCD, and the Plumas County Fire Safe Council, event cooperators include Feather River College, the University of California Cooperative Extension, Chico State University Ecological Reserve, Feather River College, and Plumas National Forest. These organizations are supported in event planning and implementation by the Directors of Fire Management at the Watershed Research & Training Center (WRTC) based out of Trinity County, California. WRTC is leveraging a relationship with The Nature Conservancy to provide a qualified burn boss for private lands.