Prescribed Fire Training Tackles Long-term Forest Health; Community Protection Needs

Cle Elum, WA — Beginning September 23, firefighters from seven agencies across the state will once again be managing fire in central Washington. Unlike this summer, these fires will be intentionally set to protect communities and restore forests through a formal training exchange (TREX). Sponsored by the Fire Learning Network, TREX is a unique opportunity for fire personnel from across the region to learn about prescribed fire and forest health across agency boundaries.

“Prescribed fire is the right fire, in the right place, for the right reasons,” said Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Fire Staff Officer, Rob Allen. “It’s a proactive step- a choice to put fire to work for our communities and forests rather than just fight against it year after year.”

For firefighters, TREX is a collaborative environment designed to increase shared stewardship and learning across agencies as well as seeing first-hand how low to moderate intensity fire can restore forests. Additionally, crews learn spot-weather forecasts and other tools to ensure optimal smoke dispersal during and after a burn.

“Across our state, communities have been choking on dense wildfire smoke,” said Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz. “This multi-agency training is a great step towards safely and responsibly restoring the health of our forests. This is critical because healthy forests are naturally resilient to wildfire and less likely to burn with uncharacteristic intensity in the future.”

Prescribed fire plans for the greater Cle Elum area TREX include approximately 500 acres on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Cle Elum, 250 acres on lands managed by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife in Yakima and Kittitas Counties, 85 acres in the Central Cascades Forest managed by the Nature Conservancy, and 95 acres of private lands near Roslyn. TREX burns could occur Monday September 24 through Friday October 5, 2018.

Real-time prescribed fire information, maps, and updates:

Training participants are from the Washington Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Roslyn Fire Department, Kittitas County Fire District 1, National Park Service, and the British Columbia Wildfire Service. The training is hosted by the Washington Prescribed Fire Council, The Nature Conservancy, USDA Forest Service, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Fire Learning Network.

Prescribed fire training

Firefighters from different agencies learn about firing operations on a prescribed fire designed to help restore Forest Service lands and reduce the threat of future high intensity wildfires near Plain, WA in September, 2017. Credit: USDA Forest Service by Kara Karboski

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