Northern CA Rx Fire Council - Fall 2012 meeting summary

This entry is written by Lenya Quinn-Davidson, the director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council and the coordinator of the consortium's northern California region.

Fall 2012 Meeting Summary

Well, we’ve done it again! One week ago, the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council held another successful meeting, this time in the Tahoe Basin. Like the spring meeting in Chico, we had over 100 people in attendance, and as usual, it was a diverse group. We had local folks from Tahoe there, in addition to fire managers, residents, government officials, researchers, and others from across northern California. We also had people come from as far away as Florida, Mississippi, Utah, and Washington, and we had a few participants from southern California. It was a great crowd!

John Washington and Kyle Jacobsen of the USFS LTBMU describe the challenges of burning in the Tahoe WUI. Photo: Susie Kocher

Steering Committee Strategy Meeting

On the evening of Wednesday, November 7, the council’s Steering Committee had their annual strategy meeting. The committee welcomed three new members: Eamon Engber, Fire Ecologist at Redwood National Park; Tom Garcia, Fire Management Officer at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area; and Jeff Kane, Professor of fire science Humboldt State University. The committee also named Lenya Quinn-Davidson, the long-time coordinator of the council, as the Council Director. These changes will help provide stability and leadership to the council as we begin transitioning to a new Chairperson. Morgan Varner, our current Chair and one of the co-founders of the council, has taken a faculty position at Mississippi State University, and he will be leaving the Chair position next spring. During the meeting, the committee also discussed upcoming projects and goals of the council, and worked on a strategic planning document, which should be ready for distribution at the spring meeting.

Conference, South Lake Tahoe, November 8, 2012

On Thursday, November 8, we met at the Embassy Suites in South Lake Tahoe for a full- day conference. Speakers included Joe Millar, the Director of Fire and Aviation for Region 5 of the Forest Service, as well as Norb Szczurek, Division Chief for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, and several top fire scientists, including the Forest Service’s Hugh Safford, Scott Stephens of UC Berkeley, and Jeff Kane of HSU. In the afternoon, we had workshops by Sonoma Technology, Inc., the Fire and Environmental Research Applications (FERA) team out of Seattle, and Miriam Morrill of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. We capped off the evening with a mixer at the hotel, dinner out at local breweries and restaurants, and the premiere of a new documentary on prescribed fire, put together by Will Harling and Stormy Staats of the Mid Klamath Watershed Council in Orleans, CA. The documentary will be available on DVD soon, and will be a great resource for the northern California prescribed fire community. It will also be featured at AFE’s International Fire Congress in Portland next month, but we got to see it first! Start thinking about whether you can organize a viewing in your hometown.

Field Tour, November 9, 2012

This unit is located below expensive homes in Incine Village and was treated with an understory burn in 2011. Photo: Susie Kocher.On Friday, brave meeting participants set out into the fresh snow to see how prescribed fire is used in the Tahoe Basin. First we visited two Forest Service burn units on the eastside of the lake. John Washington and Kyle Jacobsen, both fire managers with the USFS, led the group in a discussion of the challenges and opportunities present in the area.

The group spent the second half of the day with Norb Szczurek and Forest Schafer of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District in Incline Village. They toured the impressive NLTFPD facilities, rode in the district’s crew buses, and took an inspiring walk through some of the units that Norb and his crew treat with prescribed fire. Many of those units are on steep, shrubby terrain below million dollar homes, but the NLTFPD has been successfully treating those areas for years with the support and trust of the local community. Needless to say, field tour participants were greatly impressed and inspired by the work of this municipal fire department.

Next NCPFC Meeting

We are planning our spring meeting for sometime in April in Mendocino County. We will be in touch early next year with more details. Please contact Lenya at if you have questions or ideas, or if you want to join our mailing list. We look forward to seeing you then!