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Local tribal citizens are advocating for more cultural burns

Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, SOCONEWS

As smoke from the massive Dixie Fire made its way to Sonoma County, the Healdsburg Fire Department convened a group of fire ecologists, land management experts and stewardship specialists on Aug. 4 to provide a presentation to the community on fire ecology and how certain burns can help restore the land and work to help prevent devastating wildfires.

Clint McKay is a tribal citizen of the Dry Creek Band of Pomo and Wappo Indians. He’s a retired parks superintendent for the city of Santa Rosa and he spends much of his time giving fire ecology talks and working as an Indigenous education coordinator at the Pepperwood Preserve.

He also refuses to use the term “land management.”

“Management invokes that you control something, that you can control it and command it. Obviously we cannot,” McKay said. “I chuckle to myself every time I hear ‘natural resource management,’ ‘fire fuels management,’ ‘vegetation management.’ If we begin to think that we can manage fire, we’re in for a whole lot more of what we’ve been experiencing the past decade and what we are continuing to experience today.”

McKay has been advocating for cultural burns for a long time, however, the idea of using fire to prevent fire can sometimes be tenuous among fire fatigued Sonoma County residents.

Read more at https://soconews.org/scn_healdsburg/news/local-tribal-citizens-are-advocating-for-more-cultural-burns/article_35d615f6-f8a7-11eb-bfaa-d7403ca9249a.html?

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‘Good fire’ revival: How controlled burns in Sonoma County aim to curb risk of catastrophic wildfires

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Such burns are an efficient, inexpensive option in many cases, compared to labor-intensive manual thinning and mechanical treatments, which can cost $2,500 to $4,000 an acre and up, depending if equipment like a wood chipper or pile burning is needed.

Che Casul, a seventh-generation Sonoma County rancher, badly wanted to see his woods on fire. With three others, he walked along the edge of a 33-acre patch of oak woodlands on his family’s Bodega Highway ranch. They carried drip torches filled with diesel fuel and gasoline. As they paced their way through the forest, they released small flaming droplets meant to coalesce into a wider curtain of flames creeping along the earthen floor — a prescribed fire.

But it was a damp December day, with light rain falling by afternoon across this corner of southwestern Sonoma County, so the flames that did spread were subdued, producing a blue smoke that hovered just above the ground, swirling around the two dozen men and women clad in yellow firefighter gear and spread throughout the woodland.

Casul, 34, had invited the firefighters onto the property, part of a controlled deployment of fire that had been in the works many months earlier — as catastrophic wildfires once again overtook California, burning a record 4.2 million acres, including more than 290,000 acres of Sonoma and Napa counties.

For Casul and the team of firefighters and volunteers assembled on his 213-acre spread just inland from the Sonoma Coast, conditions were less combustible, partly by design.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/good-fire-revival-how-controlled-burns-in-sonoma-county-aim-to-curb-risk/