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Underburning is the practice of deliberate burning of surface fuel to leave the tree canopy intact as seen here in the Old Highway Road community. Training will be offered this spring. File photo

Prescribed fire training planned for spring; register by Feb. 10

After the success of previous years, organizers are offering another opportunity to utilize prescribed fire in Plumas County. The event, known as Cal-TREX, short for “prescribed fire training exchange”, will be held over two weekends: Feb. 24 – 26 and March 24-26. 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.”

The TREX model provides peer-to-peer learning and training for fire professionals to gain certifications and experiences with a goal of increasing the number of qualified personnel able to work on prescribed fires. This model supports groups like the local Plumas Underburn Cooperative (PUC).

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 and 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.

TREX events usually draw participants from a large regional area spanning several counties. Participants range from landowners looking to manage their land, to college students earning their basic firefighter qualifications, or even seasoned fire professionals receiving experiences to qualify as a burn boss or a specialized incident command position. There will also be monthly classroom and field-based training opportunities, including certifications, made available to participants. Registration is open until Feb. 10. 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 North Complex, Beckwourth Complex, and Dixie fires that have occurred in Plumas County the past few 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 (“fuels”) left untreated by the removal of regular fire intervals. 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, often on short notice, of “burn window” opportunities to 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 on both public and private lands.

In addition to the Plumas Underburn Cooperative, the Feather River RCD, and the Plumas County Fire Safe Council, event cooperators include the University of California Cooperative Extension, Chico State University Ecological Reserve, Feather River College, CALFIRE, the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, and Plumas National Forest. In recent years, Plumas National Forest has undertaken several successful TREX events in Butte County. 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.

For more information and registration, please visit www.plumasfiresafe.org/trex

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