Apply Knowledge Globally

Spanish language prescribed fire training hosted in New Mexico

NEW MEXICO – Concluding at the beginning of November, the Forest Service and the Fire Learning Network hosted a Spanish language training on prescribed fire (“TREX”) for 23 participants from 10 countries. Participants learned new skills and knowledge about how to improve the health of forests and grasslands while helping to prevent unnatural, severe fires. The training was held on the Santa Fe National Forest in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.

The participants are all fire practitioners who came to learn about prescribed fire practices and wildfire effects in the forests and prairies of New Mexico, where fire is carefully and intentionally being returned to its natural role as part of virtually all of the state’s forests and grasslands. As USDA Forest Service employees know well, it takes an immense amount of both classroom and on-the-job training to become a qualified fire worker. This training served not just to contribute to the learning of individual fire professionals, but to incrementally advance the thinking in participants’ home countries on how to effectively use prescribed fire in land management.

During the visit, the group also visited the Valles Caldera National Preserve and Bandelier National Monument. The area visited was affected by three wildfires in summer 2018.

One of the participants, Rodrigo Falleiro from Brazil, reflected, “The exchange has exceeded my expectations; we are learning the history of fire in the U.S. and in the world, fire suppression, organization, and of course, prescribed fire. I really appreciate this opportunity and am sure this experience will help us develop our strategies in prevention, management and suppression in the forests and savannas of Brazil.” Rodrigo serves in a dual role as both leader and practitioner for the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, fire division. Rodrigo’s primary objective is to coordinate prescribed fire on indigenous lands, which means integrating traditional knowledge, fire science, and developing government policy. Rodrigo and eight other participants from Brazil, Honduras, and Mexico attended with support from the US Forest Service International Programs office through funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Santa Fe National Forest fire managers mentor international participants as they assemble drip torches for a prescribed burn. USDA Forest Service photo courtesy by Stephen Saunders.

From left, fire managers, Ezequiel from Argentina, Nazário from Honduras, and Joao from Brazil share a moment of comradery while on the prescribed fire training exchange held in New Mexico. Photo courtesy of Joao Paulo Morita.

Participants and the Santa Fe Hotshots pause for a group photo. USDA Forest Service photo courtesy by Stephen Saunders.