I N T RO D U C T I ON
Devastating wildfires are scarring our Western landscapes and jeopardizing the health, safety, and social and economic vitality of our communities. And they’re on the rise. T he 2020 wildfire season in Oregon was one of the most destructive in state history, with fires killing at least nine people, destroying thousands of homes, and burning more than one million acres. In the 2021 wildfire season, the Bootleg Fire alone had burned over 400,000 acres in July, making it the largest fire burning across the nation at that point. Such seasons can cost our state millions of dollars, while costs on a national level can reach the billions. The wildfire problem is a culmination of various factors, including past management practices, human- caused wildfires, and climate changes. Landscapes are stressed due to high tree densities, drought, invasive grasses, insects, and disease. Part of the wildfire solution is prescribed fire. Prescribed fire is the intentional application of fire that minimizes the risk of wildfires, ensuring that landscapes and watersheds are resilient, healthy, and productive by
removing dead vegetation;
releasing nutrients into the soil;
helping native species out-compete invasive species; and
improving the land’s natural defenses against disease and infestations.
Prescribed fire is not a new tool. Indigenous People have been using it for thousands of years, yet, “indigenous perspectives and fire knowledge are too often downplayed or ignored” (Adla m & Martinez, 2021). To understand these perspectives further, listen to the fire episode of Oregon State University’s (OSU ’s ) Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) Extension Program podcast “In the Woods.” In it, David G. Lewis, an instructor at OSU in anthropology and ethnic studies and a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, and Amanda Rau, OSU Extension’s regional fire specialist, share historical and current perspectives on fire use, benefits of fire, and changes to our present-day landscapes since colonization and the beginning of an era of fire suppression. You can read more about the decolonization of prescribed fire on the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network blog. SURVEY We Want to Hear From You Does the Extension Service or another agency in your state provide prescribed education and training? If so, which service do you work with?
Yet, only a few states offer prescribed fire education and training for landowners or non-fire agency professionals.
OSU’s Extension decided to do something about this critical lack of knowledge and skill in Oregon by developing a prescribed fire education and training opportunity to benefit public and private landowners across Oregon. This type of education and training is one of several opportunities offered by OSU’s FNR Extension Fire Program, established in 2019. The Fire Program also is involved in such programming and
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