prescribed-fire-season-kicks-off-in-eastern-washington

Fire professionals and trainees from across Washington state are planning on conducting prescribed burns in Kittitas County from Sept. 20 through October. These burns will increase the ability of fire professionals to mitigate the risk of unplanned summer fires that put nearby communities at risk of catastrophic impacts. These prescribed burns also build fire management skills for local fire practitioners.

Prescribed burns are planned in several locations in the forests surrounding the towns of Cle Elum, Roslyn and Ronald, Wash., including planned burns in the Roslyn Urban Forest, on Nature Conservancy-managed lands, and on additional private lands in parthership with local landowners.

Smoke rises from a prescribed fire during the 2018 Cascadia TREX outside the town of Roslyn (pictured in the background). © John Marshall

Smoke rises from a prescribed fire during the 2018 Cascadia TREX outside the town of Roslyn (pictured in the background). © John Marshall

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“This year’s cross-ownership and collaborative burns showcase what’s possible when we work together to put more good fire to use,” said Washington Prescribed Fire Council Coordinator Kara Karboski. “Fire knows no boundaries, and the solutions to our wildfire management problems will require everyone, from state agencies to private landowners, to collaborate on proven solutions like prescribed fire.”

These burns are part of a collaborative training program, the Cascadia Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX), which is designed to increase shared stewardship and learning across agencies and local landowners.

Cascadia TREX participants gather for a morning briefing before a planned burn in 2018. © John Marshall

Cascadia TREX participants gather for a morning briefing before a planned burn in 2018. © John Marshall

TREX offers fire practitioners an opportunity to advance their professional fire qualifications across a wide range of roles. TREX is building long-term, local prescribed fire capacity and engaging communities to build understanding of the need for increased prescribed fire to meet local objectives of reducing wildfire risk and enhancing wildlife habitat and overall to increase the resilience and health of forests.

“One of the biggest benefits of the TREX program is the various agencies and local community members building relationships for the future when wildfire does break out,” said Kittitas County Commssioner Laura Osiadacz. “It’s great to work side by side with the state Department of Natural Resources and other agencies and take our learnings back to our fire department.”

A “burn boss” trainee presents the burn plan during a morning briefing at the 2018 Cascadia TREX. © John Marshall

A “burn boss” trainee presents the burn plan during a morning briefing at the 2018 Cascadia TREX. © John Marshall

Similar TREX events take place nationwide. In Washington, they are becoming more routine as the state and its partners implement the Washington State Wildland Fire Protection 10-Year Strategic Plan and a 20-Year Forest Health Strategic Plan to restore the natural wildfire resilience of our forests and reduce wildfire risk. With the passage this year of House Bill 1168, which created a first-of-its-kind $125 million Wildfire Response, Forest Restoration and Community Resilience funding account, the state is looking to scale up forest health and resilience treatments and put more prescribed fire to work.

“Prescribed fire is an important tool for not only reducing the amount of vegetation available to fuel wildfires, it also creates a healthier forest for our trees and wildlife,” said State Forester George Geissler, who oversees DNR’s wildland firefighting efforts. “The TREX program is a shining example of how DNR and our partner organizations are working together to increase the number of skilled professionals to put more prescribed fire to work creating healthier and more resilient forests in Washington.”

Forest restoration and fuel reduction work has been underway in and around the Roslyn Urban Forest (RUF) over the past few years. Since 2017, burns have been conducted nearby as part of TREX, relying heavily on support from local fire departments. To date, more than 120 fire practitioners have trained as part of Cascadia TREX.  

The 2021 Fall Cascadia TREX is hosted by the Washington Prescribed Fire Council and is funded by Bureau of Land Management, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the state Department of Natural Resources. Additional support by The Nature Conservancy, Fire Learning Network, City of Roslyn and Kittitas County Fire Departments.

Cascadia TREX is supported by an agreement between the USDA Forest Service and Washington Resource Conservation & Development Council and through the Promoting Ecosystems and Fire Adapted Communities Together (PERFACT), a cooperative agreement between The Nature Conservancy, USDA Forest Service, and the agencies of the Department of Interior.

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