Prescribed fire training by multiple organizations in Selma

SELMA, Ore. – Saturday and Sunday in Selma, multiple organizations came together for a prescribed fire training event. It’s called the Ignite: Prescribed Fire Skills event.

Chris Adlam with the Oregon State University Extension Service said,

“Fires are burning more and more land every year and getting hotter and hotter every year, killing more and more trees over large areas.”

Hundreds of people went to the Siskiyou Field Institute in Selma to learn about how to improve land health and protect their communities from wildfires. It’s through a collaboration of nonprofits and community organizations, working with state and federal agencies to provide prescribed burn training. Adlam said,

“They start small, they’re not really doing anything complicated but they’re doing it and they’re doing it together and it changes how they see fire, right? We have to learn that not all fire is bad. Fire can be our friend and our ally.”

Participants were firefighters, fuel reduction workers or even landowners just wanting to learn more about prescribed burns. Aaron Krikava with the Rogue Valley Prescribed Burn Association said,

“By having events like this, where we can train community members as well as suppression crews to use fire on the landscape to protect our homes and the landscape, we’re going to better prepare for wildfire when it does occur.”

The event was organized by different stations, learning about ignition techniques, what to burn, how to manage it but also stations about the native cultural significance of prescribed burns. Joe Scott with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians said,

“It’s just a learning process. We’re working with knowledge that was taken from us.”

Many local native tribes have practiced prescribed burns as a part of their culture for generations. Scott said,

“The tools, the methods, the ways it’s done have roots in tribal communities. The work protects communities, it creates abundance, it brings tribal communities together, it also brings the non-indigenous communities together.”

But tribe members say these practices they relied on were prohibited by legislation. It helped them grow food sources, but it also had impacts on other wildlife. Seneca Hescock with the Lomakatsi Restoration Project said,

“It also helped with the grazing of the elk, the deer. It also helped with what we call our ‘c’waam.’ It’s our suckerfish. It allowed our suckerfish to run up the rivers. And to have that taken away has allowed a lot of death, not only among the fish and such but through the elk and deer. We’ve lost over 65% of our population on our reservations.”

Now, participants and organizers are encouraging people to learn more about prescribed burning in their communities. For more information you can click here.

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Maximus Osburn is a reporter for NBC5 News. He studied at California State University-Northridge, graduating with a degree in Broadcasting. Maximus is an avid martial arts enthusiast and combat sports fan. He even traveled to Thailand to train with martial arts experts. Maximus loves movies, nature, and doing things outside his comfort zone, like swimming in sub-freezing lakes in the winter.
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