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Chico State

Federal, State Agencies to Participate in Prescribed Fire Training on University’s Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve

Chico State students from a Conservation and Restoration class learn about fire management at the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve.
Tyler Wright/Student Photographer

Chico State students from a Conservation and Restoration class learn about fire management at the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve.

As one of the most devastating fire seasons in state history continues, California State University, Chico’s ecological reserves are partnering with Terra Fuego to host a Prescribed Fire Training Exchanges (TREX) event to support future wildfire fighting efforts. This event creates opportunities for current and future fire professionals to receive professional training to gain experience in using prescribed fire as a tool for wildfire mitigation and ecological restoration.

Participants range from college students earning their basic firefighter qualifications to seasoned fire professionals receiving experiences to qualify as burn bosses and other specialized incident command positions. This event will include participants from federal and state agencies, local tribal members, private landowners, researchers, students, and land management professionals. Individual participants come from geographic areas ranging from Alaska and British Columbia to Nevada and San Jose.

Terra Fuego is proud to bring this event to the Chico area, and to connect various groups that all want to use fire to improve and protect our natural lands,” said Terra Fuego executive director Stephen Graydon (Communications Studies, 14; MA; Communication Studies, ’16). “We are at a tipping point with wildfire in California, so it is essential that our agencies and organizations collaborate to implement treatments across boundaries to meet this challenge at a scale that matters.”

TREX participants will be stationed at the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER), where 80 to 140 acres will be treated using prescribed fire from Oct. 23­–25, as conditions allow. CAL FIRE will support the event with resources on site.

As part of the training event, a public screening of “Wilder than Wild: Fire, Forests, and the Future” will occur on Oct. 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. on the CSU, Chico campus in Ayres Hall, Room 106. “Wilder than Wild” expands awareness about wildfire, while demonstrating how to reduce the danger of wildfire in communities. A discussion of prescribed fire and a Q&A session will follow.

“TREX incorporates everything we stand for,” said BCCER Manager Eli Goodsell (MA, Environmental Policy and Planning, ‘11). “It provides a fantastic learning opportunity for our students and fire professionals, while promoting forest health and making our community safer.”

The BCCER has been using prescribed burns as a way of reducing fire danger and teaching students about resilient ecosystems for more than a decade. The reserve is home to 15 different vegetation communities, ranging from oak woodlands and mixed conifer forests to grasslands and chaparral, making it a prime spot for training on different wildfire environments.

Media interested in being onsite during burn operations must comply with standard operating procedures to ensure safety. Please contact Goodsell at 530-228-1525 or Graydon at 530-899-8399 to reserve a spot.

Owned and operated by the CSU, Chico Research Foundation, the BCCER contains 3,950 acres of land, 4 1/2 miles of Big Chico Creek, and exceptionally diverse ecosystems. Since its creation in 1999, the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve has provided students and visitors with opportunities for hands-on experiences with nature and continues to be a hub for innovative research and land management best practices.