California State University, Chico’s Ecological Reserves are partnering with Terra Fuego and Cal Fire to conduct a prescribed burn on Thursday, February 20. This project will reduce fuels on approximately 25 acres, and smoke will be visible to residents of Forest Ranch and Chico.

In addition to multiple ecological benefits, mitigating fire risk on the property, the project provides an excellent training opportunity for CSU, Chico students and current and future fire professionals to gain experience in using prescribed fire as a tool for wildfire mitigation and ecological restoration.

The Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER) has been using prescribed burns as a way of reducing fire danger and teaching students about resilient ecosystems for more than a decade, but its importance as both an educational and wildfire mitigation tool is increasingly in the spotlight, organizers say. 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.

“As stewards of this land, it is our responsibility to maintain it to ensure it and the ecology it supports are healthy—and conducting prescribed fires is just one way to accomplish this,” said BCCER Director Eli Goodsell (Criminal Justice, ’07; Environmental Policy and Planning, ’11). “Projects like these give our University community, as well as K–12 students, an opportunity to see what it looks like to care for this land in a healthy and responsible way.”

This project is funded through the California Climate Investments program, which funds projects including affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture and recycling. At least 35 percent of these investments are made in disadvantaged communities and low-income communities and households.

Media interested in being on-site during burn operations must comply with standard operating procedures to ensure safety. Please contact Goodsell by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 19, at 530-228-1525 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.