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.

We are leaders in the field of fire management. We know wildfire is one of the biggest natural resource issues facing California today and we are tackling the problem head-on, pioneering new methods of management and planning. Through learning, training, networking, and policy-building, we are laying the foundations for a new era of fire management. Prescribed fire is one of the most important tool for restoring ecosystems and preventing the huge wildfires that threaten forests, wildlife, and communities, and we are working to build capacity for utilizing this tool throughout the state and nation.

We are excited to apply this vital work on the ground where we live. This year, we burned more than 450 acres in Trinity County. These successful burns help to keep our communities safer from wild fire by creating fire breaks and reducing fuels, and restoring our forests and watersheds.

We also utilized these burns as opportunities to strengthen partnerships and invest in our local community. Working with partners, we helped integrate this work across private and public lands, helping to develop an all-lands approach, and contributing to county-wide knowledge and planning. These burns also provided opportunities for locals to train and build capacity, helping pave the way for a county that is safer, healthier, and fire-safe.

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.