Prescribed Fire Training Gives Firefighters Skills to Improve Forest Health, Increase Community Protection
News Date: 
April 16, 2019

Interagency News Release

Wildland fire professionals from across the Pacific Northwest will be in Central Washington April 28 to May 10 to learn how to use an important tool for reducing wildfire risk on our landscapes: prescribed burning. 
Sponsored by the Fire Learning Network and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the 2019 Spring Cascadia Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX) brings participants into a collaborative environment designed to increase shared stewardship and learning across agencies. Participants are paired with certified trainers during the prescribed burns, allowing them to practice using fire to restore forests and create safer conditions for communities.
"During a prescribed burn, fire professionals use low-intensity fires to reduce vegetation that could otherwise fuel an uncharacteristically severe wildfire, including dense shrubs and saplings," said Lieutenant Eric Kiehn of Kittitas County Fire District 1. "Fire has and will always be a part of the landscape of Central Washington, and that is why prescribed fire is part of our forest restoration and community protection efforts here."
Similar TREX events take place nationwide. In Washington, they are becoming more routine as the state and its partners implement the Washington State Wildland Fire Protection 10-Year Strategic Plan and a 20-Year Forest Health Strategic Plan to restore the natural wildfire resilience of our forests and reduce wildfire risk.
"Prescribed fire is an important tool for tackling our state's forest health and wildfire crisis," said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, who leads DNR, the state's largest wildfire fighting agency. "By safely conducting planned burns, we restore the health and natural wildfire resilience of our forests, helping reduce severe wildfires. Having skilled professionals ready to do this work is critical, as safety is paramount whenever we are dealing with fire."
The TREX burns represent only some of the prescribed burning happening this spring in the Central Cascades region, as other agencies and organizations work to reduce wildfire risk and restore forests in the area. Prescribed fire plans for the 2019 Spring Cascadia TREX include burning in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife land, on The Nature Conservancy preserve and on other private land. People in the greater Cle Elum area can expect to see and smell some smoke each day during burning operations. 
The 2019 Spring Cascadia TREX is hosted by the Washington Prescribed Fire Council, The Nature Conservancy, the USDA Forest Service (USFS), DNR, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Fire Learning Network. Participants are from DNR, USFS, the Bureau of Land Management, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Yakama Nation, Lil'wat Forestry Ventures, Baker Creek Restoration, Kittitas County Fire District 1, and The Nature Conservancy.  
Washington Prescribed Fire Council, Coordinator Kara Karboski, 360-560-0168
USDA Forest Service, Public Affairs Officer Holly Krake, 509-664-9314
Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Stevie Mathieu, 360-902-1000
The Nature Conservancy, Robin Stanton, 425-478-5641
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Staci Lehman, 509-892-7853