A lecture by
University of California, Cooperative Extension
Part of the
2020 Forest & Fire Ecology Random Lecture Series
Sponsored by the California Fire Science Consortium and the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region Ecology Program
A decade ago, I surveyed prescribed fire practitioners in northern California and showed that narrow burn windows and regulations were the biggest impediments to prescribed fire in northern California. Those barriers are still there, but my understanding of the issues has become more nuanced, and I know now that the biggest obstacles we face in the West are not operational or regulatory; rather, they are cultural issues, defined by a century-long rift between people and fire, and perpetuated by the professionalization and homogenization of the fire culture. In this presentation, I will discuss various facets of my work—the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, the prescribed burn association model, and the Women-in-Fire Training Exchange (WTREX)— and how these two approaches are not only increasing the collective operational capacity for prescribed fire, but also shifting the culture of fire more generally.