us-rep.-kim-schrier-visits-prescribed-burn-in-roslyn

Congresswoman Kim Schrier, MD, an original sponsor of the bipartisan National Prescribed Fire Act of 2021, visited Cascadia TREX this week to see good fire in action.  

Participants in this year’s Cascadia TREX, short for Prescribed Fire Training Exchange, conducted a 6-acre controlled burn in the Roslyn Urban Forest yesterday. TREX brings together fire professionals from multiple agencies to increase their collective capacity for safely managing controlled burns like this one, helping to bolster the resilience of the forest and mitigate wildfire risks for the surrounding communities. 

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Photos © John Marshall

“It was an incredible experience to join firefighters and The Nature Conservancy yesterday for their prescribed burn,” said Rep. Schrier in a press release about her visit. “It’s one thing to see photos. But another thing entirely to be in a forest, holding a drip torch, gaining a better understanding of what our firefighters experience and the barriers that too often prevent this important work from being done.”

The National Prescribed Fire Act of 2021 would:

  • Establish a pair of $300 million accounts for the US Forest Service and Department of the Interior (DOI) to conduct controlled burns on federal, state and private lands. 

  • Require the Forest Service and DOI to increase the number of acres treated with controlled burns.  

  • Establish a $10 million collaborative program, based on the successful Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, to implement controlled burns on county, state and private land with high wildfire risk.

  • Create an incentive program for funding state, county and federal agencies for large-scale controlled burns.  

  • Establish a workforce development program to develop, train and hire prescribed fire practitioners, with employment programs for Tribes, veterans, women and formerly incarcerated people.

  • Require state air quality agencies to allow larger controlled burns using current laws and regulations, and give states more flexibility to conduct wintertime controlled burns to reduce catastrophic smoke events in the summer. 

Due to the legacy of fire suppression and exacerbated by climate change, we are facing a forest-health crisis spanning millions of acres in Washington state. Prescribed fire is one of our best tools to restore the health of our forests and other iconic landscapes. 

The state Department of Natural Resources has a blueprint to get us to the scale needed. The 20-year Forest Health Strategic Plan is a roadmap for us to restore and manage our forests at a pace and scale that meets the moment. Central to the plan is a goal to conduct 1.25 million acres of landscape-scale forest health treatments by 2037.  

Smoke rises from a 6-acre prescribed fire in the Roslyn Urban Forest on Oct. 6, 2021. The town of Roslyn is seen in the background. Photo © John Marshall

Smoke rises from a 6-acre prescribed fire in the Roslyn Urban Forest on Oct. 6, 2021. The town of Roslyn is seen in the background. Photo © John Marshall

In Olympia earlier this year, state lawmakers unanimously passed House Bill 1168, creating a first-of-its-kind $125 million Wildfire Response, Forest Restoration and Community Resilience funding account, to scale up forest health and resilience treatments and put more prescribed fire to work. Congresswoman Schrier’s National Prescribed Fire Act of 2021 dovetails with the new state program and would expand the use of prescribed fire across federal, state, tribal and private lands. The bill would ramp up federal funding for these efforts and create a skilled workforce of prescribed fire practitioners.

Yesterday’s Cascadia TREX burn and training is an example of the forest restoration projects that we can accelerate and scale with added support from the state and federal governments. By working together, we can create the future fire workforce and put more driptorches into the hands of trained fire professionals. 

Learn more about this year’s Cascadia TREX

Banner photo: Nikolaj Lasbo / TNC


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