Prescribed Fire Program
Historically, the Western Klamath Mountains experienced fires every 3 to 10 years. Fire suppression over the last 100 years and the prohibition of traditional Tribal burning has resulted in a huge fire deficit in our region. The use of prescribed fire may be the only viable long-term method for protecting our communities. Fire needs to be restored to the landscape for multiple other reasons as well: including for cultural resources, wildlife habitat, and general ecological functionality.
MKWC, through the Orleans/Somes Bar Fire Safe Council (OSBFSC) is facilitating collaborative strategic restoration planning and hazardous fuels reduction throughout our community. Our five-year strategic plan calls for the use of prescribed broadcast burning as a cost efficient tool for reducing hazardous fuels on pre-treated private lands, and for maintaining these treated areas over time.
Returning fire to public land is even more critical, since this comprises 95% of the property in this region. To that end MKWC is a key player in the collaborative Western Klamath Restoration Partnership (WKRP) which seeks to return fire to the wider landscape. WKRP is a community-based partnership working towards building trust and a shared vision to create fire-adapted communities, and to use traditional ecological knowledge and western science to restore fire regimes and re-create resilient biodiverse forests.
The Orleans/Somes Bar Fire Safe Council has partnered with the Nature Conservancy to bring fire professionals to the Klamath for training opportunities since 2012. That year a crew of fire professionals from Spain visited Orleans and helped several landowners prepare their properties for a controlled burn. Each year since, MKWC has hosted the Klamath River Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX) each fall. With help from The Nature Conservancy, the Fire Learning Network, and the Karuk Tribe, and more recently from CalFire and the USFS, these events have trained hundreds of fire fighters in the skills needed for prescribed burning, and have succeeded in burning hundreds of acres on private land. Find out more about the upcoming TREX
Read the TREX article “Learning Together, Burning Together”, published in “Wildfire Today” by Will Harling for a good look at the 2014 TREX event.
The OSBFSC is aware that the success of our burning projects relies not only on partnerships with funding and permitting agencies, but critically on landowner and community support. We ask the community for their tolerance when it comes to smoke from prescribed fire. Implementing burns when it is safe will, in the long run, mean less of those summers when the air is filled with smoke for months on end. Burns are generally done in the late Fall and early Spring, but with the climate changing, there may be opportunities to burn during the winter months. Burn planning and implementation are only feasible when the rate of fire spread is slow and there is still residual moisture in the larger fuels. Prescribed burns incorporate multiple safety measures to ensure success. These include having a fire engine on site, creating firelines around all burned areas, and providing a trained Type I or II Fire Crew to conduct the burns.
Check out some short videos online documenting community efforts to reduce wildfire risk to communities through TREX prescribed burning
Fall 2014 Klamath River Prescribed Burn Training Exchange (TREX) videos:
For more information about our projects, to request brushing or broadcast burns on your property, or to learn more about how you can make your home Fire Safe, Contact the Orleans/Somes Bar Fire Safe Council.
For more information contact MKWC in Orleans, CA 530 627 3202