prescribed fire

Brushing Up on Wildfire Skills

Credit: Maui News

Credit: Maui News

Prescribed fire can be a great opportunity for firefighters to train for real life wildfire scenarios, while also reducing vegetation hazards prior to peak fire season. Wildfires are inevitable in dry areas, but they don’t have to catch us completely off guard and be as destructive as they have been. As Chief Eric Moller of U.S. Army-Garrison, FES says: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of protection.”

From the Source:

Maui Fire Department firefighters learn how to “fight fire with fire” while taking part in an annual wild land refresher training in a former sugar cane field several miles mauka of Puunene Tuesday morning. Assistant Chief Rick Kawasaki explained that during a windblown brush fire a “backfire,” or “burnout,” strategy can be used to widen a firebreak or eliminate combustibles next to structures to rob a raging fire of fuel when it reaches the area. “It’s less labor intensive,” Kawasaki said. “With this type of fuel, it burns so fast, we can’t keep up.” 

Live Wildfire Training on Maui Set Later This Month

View of Launiupoko where the April 17, 18, 22 training will take place.

View of Launiupoko where the April 17, 18, 22 training will take place.

Attention Maui residents and visitors:

From the Source:

The Maui Fire Department will be conducting wildland firefighting refresher training in the Launiupoko and Central Maui areas April 17 to 19 and 22 to 24 — using live fires.

Residents may see flames or smell smoke in the training areas, said acting Fire Services Chief Jeffrey T. Giesea.

The purpose of the exercises is to provide a hands-on refresher training for firefighting personnel prior to the upcoming brush fire season and to reduce the brush fire hazard in the neighboring communities by burning away fuel and creating a “safety buffer.”

Firefighters will be in a 20-acre plot about 3 miles east of the old Puunene Mill from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 19, 23, 24; and in Launiupoko on a 20-acre plot north of Haniu Street and Punakea Loop along “Lahaina Pump Ditch Two” from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 17, 18, 22.

Fueling the Fire: Trump Thinks Logging Will Stop the Burning in California. It won't.

“On the left is the Camp Fire in Big Bend, California, and on the right the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.” - Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and David McNew/Getty Images

“On the left is the Camp Fire in Big Bend, California, and on the right the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.” - Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and David McNew/Getty Images

One of the most renowned wildland fire experts, Stephen J. Pyne, offers more than his two cents of why the California fires are as extreme as they are…and it is not because California has not removed enough trees.

From the Source:

Where fires are crashing into towns, the real fuel is the built environment. Aerial photos of savaged suburbs tend to show incinerated structures and still-standing trees. The vegetation is adapted to fire; the houses aren’t. Once multiple structures begin to burn, the local fire services are overwhelmed and the fire spreads from building to building. This is the kind of urban conflagration Americans thought they had banished in the early 20th century. It’s like watching measles or polio return. Clearly, the critical reforms must target our houses and towns and revaccinate them against today’s fire threats. The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise program shows how to harden houses and create defensible space without nuking the scene into asphalt or dirt.

Too often, whether we’re talking about politics or fire management, the discussion ends up in absolutes. We leave the land to nature, we strip it, or we convert it to built landscapes. We have either the wild or the wrecked. In fact, there are lots of options available, and they will work best as cocktails. There is a place for prescribed burning, for prescribed grazing, for prescribed thinning (a kind of woody weeding), for prescribed chipping and masticating by machines, for greenbelting—crafting swathes of low-fuel land use like recreational parks or even golf courses—and, in select sites, for prescribed logging. Most treatments should concentrate where people and high-value assets are at risk—exurbs, suburbs, municipal watersheds. Elsewhere, in wildlands, some kind of managed fire will likely prove the most usable means, and in the West, hybrid practices—half suppression, half prescribed burn—are becoming common.

Integrating Traditional Ecological Knowledge and World Renewal Ceremonies into Fire Adaptation: An Indigenous Stewardship Model

"Shown in this image is a California-hazel-stem basket holding tanoak acorns that were collected from the 2015 Klamath River Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX) burn area. Also shown is a Karuk woman’s “work” basket cap and an acorn cooking paddle made of Pacific maple. These are a few of the resources used by Karuk women to gather and prepare acorn soup. This burn reduced acorn pests, cleared out surface and ladder fuels to improved acorn gathering, and maintained the tanoak cavity at the base of this older tree. Cavities like this are important habitat for animals that hunt small game that eat acorns. "  Credit: Frank Lake, USDA Forest Service and Karuk Tribe.

"Shown in this image is a California-hazel-stem basket holding tanoak acorns that were collected from the 2015 Klamath River Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX) burn area. Also shown is a Karuk woman’s “work” basket cap and an acorn cooking paddle made of Pacific maple. These are a few of the resources used by Karuk women to gather and prepare acorn soup. This burn reduced acorn pests, cleared out surface and ladder fuels to improved acorn gathering, and maintained the tanoak cavity at the base of this older tree. Cavities like this are important habitat for animals that hunt small game that eat acorns. "

Credit: Frank Lake, USDA Forest Service and Karuk Tribe.

In Hawaii, traditional ecological knowledge plays a critical role in the path forward towards more resilient and vibrant landscapes and communities. For example, restoring native dryland plants that are culturally significant along watersheds and even around your own home, helps to also reduce fire threats and impacts to our communities, lands, and waters. Hawaii is not alone in integrating traditional ecological knowledge with fire adaptation, there are many other great examples globally, including in the mainland U.S.:

From the Source: 

"The Karuk Tribe’s Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and belief systems are constructed and preserved in the form of stories, practices, performances and ongoing interactions with the natural world. Among such rituals include our World Renewal Ceremonies, which the Karuk Tribe has practiced since time immemorial. These ceremonies have been passed down for millennia, and are a key part of our local communities’ social fabric. They link human practices like fishing, hunting and gathering to responsibility. They also ceremonially align our culture with ecosystem process and function. In our worldview, cultural resources have a life, as do the people using them. Each life deserves consideration when planning projects, including fire adaptation projects."

Wildfires Are Essential: The Forest Service Embraces a Tribal Tradition

"Rony Reed, a Karuk tribal member, participates in a burn at Bacon Flat in Orleans, California. Photo by Stormy Staats / Klamath Salmon Media Collaborativemaker."

"Rony Reed, a Karuk tribal member, participates in a burn at Bacon Flat in Orleans, California. Photo by Stormy Staats / Klamath Salmon Media Collaborativemaker."

This was a really interesting read that highlights Karuk and their use of community-based prescribed burning as part of a larger cultural and ecological renaissance and to change the narrative on certain misconceptions about their relationship to fire. The article also highlights how the merging of science and culture are essential, especially in the face of climate change.

From the Source:

"This marks the third year the Karuk have helped run and organize the community burning program, a joint venture between the tribe and several groups, including a local watershed council and the nonprofit Nature Conservancy, which uses the burn as part of its own national training program in controlled burning. For the Karuk, the program marks a historic turn from years of being labeled as arsonists for lighting the fires that belief says they are required to perform. It’s also a tribute to the fact that controlled or prescribed burning is becoming in vogue among scientific and resource management circles. The Karuk hope their young fire program will be the start of a sustainable, community-based effort leading to a cultural and ecological revival for the tribe."

What's the Leading Cause of Wildfires in the U.S.? Humans

"More than 10 wildfires burned over 200,000 acres in Southern California in October 2003, many of them started by humans. This satellite image shows strong winds carrying smoke over the Pacific." Credit: MODIS Rapid Response Team/NASA

It is no surprise, human beings are the leading cause of wildfires in the U.S. (more than 98% of fires in Hawaii are caused by people). But now, thanks to scientists, we know the extent of the issue: humans cause 84% of forest fires nationwide! Prevention education is so important - we hope that you can continue to help HWMO spread the word about preventing wildfires to protect our communities, lands, and waters. 

From the Source:

"As a result, Balch says, not only are people causing the vast majority of wildfires, they're also extending the normal fire season around the country by three months."

"I think acknowledging that fact is really important," she says, "particularly right now when we have evidence that climate is changing, and climate is warming, and that fires are increasing in size and the fire season is increasing."

Indigenous Fire Methods Could Slash Global Emissions

"NSW Rural Fire Service crews struggle to contain a bushfire around the Wentworth Falls escarpment.   Photo: Wolter Peeters"

"NSW Rural Fire Service crews struggle to contain a bushfire around the Wentworth Falls escarpment. Photo: Wolter Peeters"

We can learn a lot from the past and especially from those who have (and continue to) pass on the knowledge for centuries. 

From the Source:

"The preliminary findings of a $3 million United Nations University research project, largely funded by the federal government, said controlled wildfire methods historically used by Indigenous Australians, and robust methods to measure their benefit, could be used by nations around the world, cutting global emissions from wildfires by as much as a half.

Indigenous people have historically managed the savannah regions of tropical northern Australia through low-intensity 'patchwork burning' early in the dry season, which can help prevent uncontrolled fires later in the season, and so cut emissions.

Wildfires are a significant source of greenhouse gas and their prevalence is expected to increase because of climate change. Each year wildfires burn up to 4.5 million square kilometres globally – an area more than half the size of Australia."

VIDEO: Okanogan Complex: Washington Wildfire Is Now Largest in State History

Credit: Ruth Fremson/Redux Pictures

Credit: Ruth Fremson/Redux Pictures

Firefighters are traveling from around the world to fight the now largest wildfire in Washington's history (an area larger than New York City). They're using various tactics including prescribed fire and fuelbreak creation to fight the fire that has claimed the lives of three firefighters and injured four. 

One resident explained as she watched flames come closer to her home: "I don't want any firemen dying to save this house. It's not worth anybody's life."

Mahalo to all those firefighters who are putting their lives on the line and working together as a multi-agency, multi-nation effort.

From the Source:

"About 1,250 people are battling the wildfire, Pachota said, adding that help was continuing to "trickle in." About 70 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand have arrived in Boise, Idaho, and are scheduled to receive protective gear before heading out to fight fires burning all over the West."

"We do continue to make progress, but with these fires, the only way to deal with them is like eating an elephant — one bite at a time," Pechota said.


Kihei Cane Burn Part of HC&S Annual Harvest

This is a good time to practice the "Set" portion of your Ready, Set, Go! Hawaii Wildland Fire Action Guide. Pay attention to your surroundings including any sudden changes in wind. Even if it is a "controlled" burn, the best is to be prepared for the worst case scenario. You can access updates via text, email or online at HCSugar.com.

From the Source: 

"Several residents sent in photos this morning of a scheduled cane fire in South Maui.

The plume of smoke from the fire could be seen from Māʻalaea Harbor with light winds carrying the smoke skyward.

According to notifications from Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, the fire was a scheduled burn that began at 6 a.m., and was to conclude 10 a.m. above Hawaiian Cement near Kīhei.

The burn is part of the company’s 142nd harvest that began in mid-March."

Above: "Oct. 27, 2014, 6:15 a.m. from Māʻalaea Harbor toward Kīhei. Courtesy Steve Butler aboard the Mahana Naiʻa." 

Above: "Oct. 27, 2014, 6:15 a.m. from Māʻalaea Harbor toward Kīhei. Courtesy Steve Butler aboard the Mahana Naiʻa." 

Burn, Baby, Burn - If We Say So

From the Source: 

"What strategy might evolve for the Western wildlands?

The old fire exclusion paradigm had clarity—a bogus simplicity, but one easily communicated and measured. What has emerged to replace it can seem muddled and tricky to explain. The reality is that fire suppression remains dominant nationally, though it has acquired a lighter hand in the backcountry and a heavier one near exurbs. The other reality is that every wildland fire put out is a fire put off. Fire agencies now face a phalanx of changes that are powering conflagrations—not only the legacy of stockpiled fuels but also climate change, invasive species, a fractal exurban sprawl, and political gridlock. With no single cause, there is no single solution. Fire officers look instead for pragmatic responses, adapted to particular circumstances."

"Critics dismiss the outcome as a muddle, but others put a positive spin on it, arguing that it’s more of a mashup. They point out that the country does not have a fire problem: It has many fire problems, all of which require different approaches. In the public lands of the West, the options are few. Fire officers will have to manage their lands with the fires they get, not the ones they would like. In many wildlands they will work with fires that start from any source and “box” them in according to natural or built features that allow easier control. They will then burn out from those perimeters and fire out the interiors. This approach, officially known as “confine and contain,” unofficially as “box and burn,” is likely to become the primary strategy for managing fires in the West. This video demonstrates how a hybrid approach, including “box and burn,” was applied to the recent Slide fire outside Sedona, Arizona."

"So expect plenty of fires this season. Expect burns that make 1977’s 178,000-acre Marble Cone fire seem unexceptional. Expect critics to harp on wishy-washy policies and a lack of airtankers. Hope that we don’t see communities blown away or crews burned over. Then get used to it. It’s what the future of fire in the West will look like."

Above: "A wildfire threatens homes in San Marcos, California, on May 15, 2014. The blazes come amid record temperatures in the state, where the annual wildfire season typically starts much later in the year." Credit: Jorge Cruz/AFP/Getty Images

Above: "A wildfire threatens homes in San Marcos, California, on May 15, 2014. The blazes come amid record temperatures in the state, where the annual wildfire season typically starts much later in the year." Credit: Jorge Cruz/AFP/Getty Images

Da Glow of Mem'ry

Wildfire is a complex issue with many components - everyone has their own perspective about it. Here's an interesting, creative piece written by a local actress, storyteller, and cofounder of Manaʻo Radio named Kathy Collins (a.k.a. Tita).

From the Source: 

"Ho boy, dis cane burnin’ contra-versy get me all mix up. My head an’ my heart stay leanin’ opposite ways. My head know dat smokin’ is bad fo’ yo’ health. Ev’rybody know dat, even da guys who smoke. An’ even if cane smoke not da same as cigarette smoke, I t’ink any kine smoke not good. Dass jus’ common sense. An’ yet, in all da time I wen’ grow up ovah here, I no remembah evah getting sick from da cane fire smoke. All my fam’ly an’ friends too, same t’ing. Even my grandfaddah, who used to clean da humongous smokestacks at da sugar mill, he nevah did get da kine lung problems in his whole life. An’ he wen’ live till ninety. So even if I know in my head dat da cane fire smoke is bad, my heart no believe.

Growin’ up on Maui, cane burnin’ was jus’ one noddah part a life, like mango season, or wintah surf, or da Civil Dafense warning sirens dat go off on da firs’ workin’ day of da month. Nobody talk about changin’ ‘em. Dass jus’ how was.

Once in a while, my faddah would grumble about da cane fires, but wasn’t da smoke dat wen’ boddah him, was da Maui snow. When da wind blow one certain way, da black ash would come float inside da garage, an’ den my faddah had to hose off da garage floor, ‘cause da ash too light fo’ sweep. Sometimes my maddah, too, would grumble when da HC&S guy come around, door to door, wit’ da pepa dat tell us goin’ get cane fire da next day. No can wash clothes on burn days, unless you like black streaks all ovah yo’ stuffs. Me, I was happy, ‘cause hangin’ up da laundry was my job..."

Above: Credit - Maui Magazine

Above: Credit - Maui Magazine

Army to Conduct Annual Burn Next Week to Prevent Wildfires

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii is taking a very proactive approach to mitigating wildfire risk through a multi-pronged management strategy that includes prescribed burning. 

From the Source: 

Army officials are taking proactive steps to prevent fires on the Schofield Barracks training range during the hotter, drier months ahead.

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) Range Development and Management Committee and the 84th Engineer Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, have spent the last three months removing brush and trees around existing range firebreaks and improving roads throughout the range complex to provide better access for firefighters and emergency personnel.

The work is being done ahead of the Army’s annual prescribed burn of the Schofield Barracks training range complex next week.

The burn, which is scheduled for May 26 through May 31, is designed to reduce overall fire danger in the area by removing highly flammable guinea grass and other vegetation.

If left unchecked, these grasses become large fuel sources for wildfires that can be difficult to contain and threaten area resources, officials said...

Freeman estimates that effective prescribed burns can reduce wildfire outbreaks by as much as 75 percent, making them an important tool to wildfire prevention."

Credit - U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii

Credit - U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii

Wildfires Consume Funds Flagged for Prevention

From the Source:

“This year, the U.S. Forest Service has spent hundreds of millions of dollars fighting wildfires, cutting into funds originally set aside to prevent them. Fire historian Steve Pyne compares the way we manage fires today to how we manage health—focused on emergencies, and not prevention."

Above: "A fire team lights a restoration burn on the Dahms Tract, Platte River and Wood River area of Nebraska. The Nature Conservancy hopes to demonstrate that there is economic as well as conservation value in restoring tracts of native grasslands. Photo by Chris Helzer/The Nature Conservancy"

Above: "A fire team lights a restoration burn on the Dahms Tract, Platte River and Wood River area of Nebraska. The Nature Conservancy hopes to demonstrate that there is economic as well as conservation value in restoring tracts of native grasslands. Photo by Chris Helzer/The Nature Conservancy"

VIDEO: Controlled Burn in Volcanoes National Park

From the Source:

“A 14-person fire crew burned a 103-acre kipuka at Kealakomowaena, located near the end of Chain of Craters Road at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Wednesday.
 

Park officials say the prescribed burn is intended to spark the growth of native grass, and will reveal a cultural landscape once occupied by families living in the ahupua’a of Kealakomo.
 

Pili grass once dominated Hawaii’s coastal areas, but is becoming increasingly rare thanks to invasive species."