SAN FRANCISCO, California: Landowners in California participated this week in a class organized by the El Dorado Amador Prescribed Burn Association on how to keep prescribed burn under control, while others stand by ready to assist with water pumps, hand tools and first aid.
The association was founded in 2021 by Susie Kocher to teach private landowners about prescribed burns, including how to plan and carry them out safely.
Prescribed burns are considered by experts, such as Kocher and fire officials, as a key tool for preventing wildfire risks by preemptively burning dry timber and other fire fodder, which fuel out-of-control wildfires that have hit California in recent years.
"People have an innate fear of fire because it has only been an enemy that has been wiping out communities.. But if you do it at the right time, under your own conditions, it can be your friend and it can treat the forest, as opposed to destroying it," Kocher said, as quoted by Reuters.
One of the association's students, Sarah Fischbach, said, "We have not done any pile burns for probably 10 to 15 years with the way fires have been going. You know, recently we have been scared to, and we have not really had the knowledge to feel like we were doing it safely," as reported by Reuters.
In 2022, California launched a strategic plan for wildfire and forest resilience, which includes expanding prescribed burns to 400,000 acres annually by 2025.
The class, held at the Blodgett Forest Research Station west of Lake Tahoe, involved two dozen volunteers, mostly college students and a few private landowners.
"We are seeing really nice fire behavior. It is consuming a lot of material on the ground, a lot of fuel and kind of cleaning out the underbrush. But we are not seeing it get into the canopies of our trees, which is kind of exactly what we are looking for," said Ariel Roughton, research forest manager, according to Reuters.