Prescribed fire, or controlled burning, is a restoration technique that addresses fire deficits in fire-dependent landscapes through the deliberate application of fire, helping to restore healthy ecosystems and reduce the risk of large-scale wildfire.

Since the early 1900s, fire management practices focused exclusively on suppression—putting out all fires. But many forests and rangelands are fire adapted, requiring fire as an integral part of how their ecosystems are sustained. When fire isn’t present, the health of the land suffers. Trees become stressed by overcrowding and competition, fire-dependent species disappear, and biomass accumulates contributing to the high risk of large-scale and ecologically uncharacteristic wildfire. These impacts damage environmental health, and pose threats to communities and population centers that are costly for the environment, economy, and human health and wellbeing.

Since 1996, the Watershed Center’s Fire, Fuels, and Forestry program has been addressing the risks to forest health and community safety resulting from the removal of fire from the ecosystem. We work locally, regionally, and nationally to integrate learning, policy, training, and implementation. Partnering with federal and state agencies, local fire departments, NGO’s, and landowners we are able to apply the best learning and expertise to inform planning and implementation of prescribed fire and fire preparedness strategies, and develop new strategies and creative solutions for fire management.

If you are a land owner and would like to learn about fuels reduction, fire preparedness planning, and prescribed burn opportunities to improve the health and fire safety of your property, contact Dave via email at or by phone at 530-628-4206. You can also learn more by visiting our landowner services page.