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Prescribed Fire Panel Discussion

December 4, 2021

On November 16, MWPA and the Ecologically Sound Practices (ESP) Partnership collaborated to host an informative panel discussion on the use of prescribed fire for vegetation management. The panel was organized and facilitated by one of our GrizzlyCorps fellows, Maria Schmitt, and featured six subject-matter experts from both inside and outside of Marin County. The selected experts brought various perspectives to the conversation as a result of their broad range of experiences. Some came with knowledge of cultural burning and land management while others were fire authorities, professors, and vegetation ecologists. This allowed us to hold a well-rounded conversation that addressed this complex solution.

Panelists included:
Sasha Berleman, Ph.D., Director of Fire Forward, Audubon Canyon Ranch
Captain Jordan Reeser, Marin County Fire Department
Chief Jason Webber, Marin County Fire Department
Sherry Adams, Senior Vegetation Ecologist, Marin Municipal Water District
Coty Sifuentes-Winter, Senior Resource Management Specialist, Mindpeninsula Open Space District
Peter Nelson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley

The elaborate nature of planning and implementing prescribed fire led us to many points of interest. The topics covered ranged from prescribed fire history and cultural burning to the potential ecological ramifications and benefits prescribed burns can have.

Public concern and mitigating some of the risks associated with prescribed burning was also discussed. Chief Weber from the Marin County Fire Department stated that in most cases they “use mechanical removal of some fuels prior to burning to reduce the [fire’s] intensity.” He also stated that “If the winds pick up to a point where we’re not comfortable or it's out of the prescription, we stop burning. We have sufficient resources on scene not only for holding and keeping the fire contained but also to mop up afterwards so embers don't escape the control lines.”

The experts spoke about their experiences and shared wisdom with our audience to help them better understand how fire can be used, alongside other tools, to reduce the threat of wildfire in Marin County. This holistic approach will be vital moving forward as we continue to make our community more fire resilient. To learn more about these important topics and some of the future prescribed fire plans in Marin County, watch the video here.

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