Home > Uncategorized > Northern California Prescribed Fire Conference meeting notes 12/5-6/13

Northern California Prescribed Fire Conference meeting notes 12/5-6/13


Northern California Prescribed Fire Council

Fall Meeting Notes, Anderson California

December 5, 6, 2013


The following are informal notes taken as a participant in the fall Prescribed Fire Council meeting in Anderson, California.


Three committees have been formed and the council is recruiting additional participants.


Training Committee Report.

TREX training in October – 400 acres treated and 23 FEMO task books. Used Type 3 ICS and may expand to Type 2 in future. They are looking to adopt NWSA training certification standards.  Asked group to identify training needs and training opportunities.  Training effects document will be posted to website.  Phil Dyer lead, with Norb, Jeff Kane, Lenya. 


Communication Committee Report.

Vanna and Michelle are leads. 


Policy Committee Report. 

Nick Goulet (Hayfork Watershed) commissioned a UCD grad student to conduct a study on law and policy.  White paper will be published in March.  SRA fees, carbon taxes potential funding.  State Assembly hearing 12/3 on Rx fire.  Looking to reform liability for escaped fire – gross negligence versus error.  Categorizing smoke issues.


Carl Skinner, Rx fire Shasta Lake area, Black Oak stands.

Past mining practices changed this area from a black oak to a ponderosa pine forest.  In the mid-1970s there was a deer die-off due to lack of viable acorns and poor browse conditions.  They started a prescribed fire program in the black oaks and shrubs in 1977.  Acorns take 2 years to ripen.  They kept the fire low on the ground after acorn drop to greatly improve fire-killed acorn or filbert weevils on the ground and prevent the weevils from coming back the following year.  Smoke drifting up into the body of the tree also appeared to help fumigate for weevils.    


Pine litter burns hotter than oak litter and helps reduce and manage more small invasive pines.  Fire done when dormant and leaves dropped – allows heat to pass through faster than when leafed out.  This also incidentally resulted in improved bald eagle nesting stands.  During fall and winter, a tool for identifying dead versus live oak trees – dead trees hold their leaves and live trees shed them in the fall.


They found it difficult to burn under canyon live oaks due to their preference to steep hillsides and dense crowns.  They also found much more scorch on CLO – held more heat; susceptible to cambium damage.


Acorn Production and Fire:  Living Cultural Resources, Don Hankins & Frank Lake

(NSF research funded).

Don:  intend to rekindle indigenous fires; milkweed fiber belt, National Museum of Indian.  Settlement times.   Cannot recreate past, but can implement keystone processes.  Referenced “Intervention in Ecology,” Hobbs, et al.



–          Issues:  Whose law, whose right, whose land, environmental responsibility, fragmented knowledge, liability, invasive species, identify vision, set goals and success criteria.  “Can you live with this?”

–          Oak filbert worm/filbert weevil – cydia latiferreana – black and tan oaks; acorn masting –heavier fruiting year; Rx fire can be healthy form of stress and kills weevil, too.

–          Tannin levels/ why manage one species over another?; nut size; quality of nut meat

–          K Anderson, NRCS chart – Oct/Nov is traditionally best time to burn for weevil control.  With an adaptive approach, can burn April – June window; best burn window was a 3 hour time period on June 17; bugs still present in acorn; okay mortality;

–          LE5 & 7 permits with CALFIRE; Karuk tribe. Fall burns have less scorch and acorns fall on a charred surface making easier gathering.

–          Spring burn had 10 – 30 foot vertical scorching and made acorn gathering more difficult, but had good reduction in weevils.

Don – Big Chico Creek – blue oak reserve.  Cosumnes River Preserve – Valley oaks, burned 10/13.  They still burned, but due to federal shutdown there were no PPEs from BLM.  Some native team members chose not to wear PPEs.  Fish and Game pulled permit the night before the burn, but due to tribal self determination; chose to move forward. Weevils usually have a dispersal area of 9.5 meters, and very rarely as far as 75 meters.  A small inversion the day of the burn allowed for natural fumigation.  Mistletoe can be controlled by smoke fumigation.



Danny Manning, Greenville Rancheria.

Showed pictures of contemporary cradle board made from locally sourced materials; burning willows to produce straight sprouts for weaving.  Maidu adult and youth members and elders participated their burns.  Treatment plans include traditional knowledge.  Co-agreements and MOAs to care for and access oaks on non-tribal lands.  Heavy youth involvement with BLM.  Native fire depts. practice bump-and-runs with FS fire crews and native engines mirror federal engines for fittings.  MOUs and agreements with CALFIRE for fuel reduction projects – areas skipped for cultural preservation did not count against the invoicing.  Held traditional ecology knowledge meetings with agencies.


Bill Zielinski, USFS Research Station, Fisher – Pekania pennati

–          Fisher habitat usually found in most dense areas; not listed on endangered species yet, petitioned 3 times.

–          Referenced National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study (Blodgett and Kings Canyon).  Early prescribed burning or just mechanical better outcome than mechanical+fire.

–          Fishers may tolerate 10-15% treatment.  Referenced Craig Thompson study.

–          SPLATS – rates of treatment 8-27%, depending on researcher & forest (Syphard et al, 2011, recommended 8%)

–          Use scat-detecting dogs – run through area twice year

–          Did some research on CO levels in cavities; heat levels in cavities for prescribed fire not too bad, but CO levels not okay, especially for young.


Mark Andre, Board of Forestry and Arcata Community Forest

–          Conifer encroachment of quercus study in draft form

–          Planning field trips, active restoration – need locations in Northern Sierra, Sierra, and North Coast.  Need host for field trips.  White paper on prescribed fire/mechanical/monetize

–          Aspen/wet meadow template; oak draft up by mid-December.

–          VTP changes may open avenues for go-ahead without conflict with stocking rates

–          Apologized for barriers to grants with oak restoration projects

–          “oak woodland/grassland/prairie” restoration projects – recommends pre-consultation to make case


Matt Cocking, NRCS , Eureka and Marko Bey, Lomakatsi, Ashland Oregon:  Oak Restoration on Private Land

Matt – They are working on typical prairie bald with grass fringe, wooded edge, white oak forest.  Conifer girdling is a useful tool – slows down need to deal with slash, leaves wildlife snags behind.  NRCS would like to use prescribed fire as a tool, but does not have the internal capacity to do so.  They can do pre-work prep, but cannot write burn plans or implement.

Marko – Lomakatsi partners with Klamath Bird Observatory, NRCS, FWS, Nature Conservancy, multiple partners.  Based in Ashland, works projects in Oregon and Northern Ca; work force initiative; capacity and job development for Umpqua basin (Douglas, Jackson, Siskiyou counties).  Has current $2 million CCPI grant and FWS funds.  Their biological hot spot is the Colestin Valley – fisher habitat, key plants.  CCPI is not timber focus.    Weed control.  Crew qualifications – retention guidance developed.  They do not touch Brewers Oak except patch burning.


Jaime Stevens, Klamath Bird Observatory:  Birds as Indicators.

–          Referenced study “Bird Habitat & Population in Oak Ecosystems of Pacific Northwest.”  On their website under publications. 


Eamon Engber, Redwood National Park and Whiskeytown NRA.

–          This is a ‘fire facilitating climate’

–          Bald Hills — Douglas fir encroaching on oaks.  Treatment methods – prescribed fire and mechanical.  All burning in RNP in early fall before rain with intact fire line, or late season without fire line.

–          Douglas fir seedlings and saplings targeted; Doug fir litter is compact and hard to burn, versus oak litter which burns easily.

–          Repeated entry approach; however, long term repeated burns see increase in nonnative cover

–          Fire Monitoring Handbook program

–          Heavy use of girdling where they cannot burn.  Need wide girdle for Douglas fir – 12 inches minimum, due to sap.  Takes 1-5 years to die.  Good for wildlife and spreads out slash impacts.

–          Whiskeytown – chipped onsite for co-gen plant and gave away logs (national park cannot sell).  After prescribed fire, increase in non-native grasses and native forbs.  Used metal-tracked feller/buncher and had to do a lot of post work rehab.


Ryan DeSantis – Effects of Fire and Thinning in Oklahoma and California.  Many complex charts.  (ran out of time for CA portion of report).


Jonathan Long – California Black Oak Resilience.

–          Black oak ecological keystone; interlinked food web.

–          Lidar in Yosemite could not pick up oak signatures – not enough presence in the canopy to register.

–          Pushing for more managed wildfires to avoid losses of legacy trees.


Submitted by Cathy Koos Breazeal


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