Little Fires: Landowners Learn to Burn
Empowering Property Owners to Conduct Prescribed Burns
- California’s wildfire problem is no secret. Getting “good fire” on the ground, such as through prescribed fires and cultural burning practices, is a key tool toward addressing it.
by Kat Kerlin with visuals by Tim McConville
Smoke billows over the forest like a slow-moving fog. Dried oak leaves singe, crackle and curl into ash. Neighbors, scientists and agency staffers rake the embers, directing the flames with calm, careful control. Ted Odell’s grandson runs along his namesake trail, Henry’s Hill, to adjust a hose.
This is Odell’s property in Placer County, where five of his 11 acres are being burned by prescribed fire with assistance from Placer County Resource Conservation District, UC Davis researchers and others.
He feels good knowing that this gentle fire will bring ecological benefits to his property, which was just 1 mile from the River Fire’s evacuation zone last summer. But he’s clear about his objective.
“My goal is very simple: Reduce fire threat,” he said. “I’m hoping this is a cost-effective way to manage the land. I can’t solve climate change, but I can make my property more resilient.”
California’s wildfire problem is no secret. Getting “good fire” on the ground, such as through prescribed fires and cultural burning practices, is a key tool toward addressing it. But landowners need help learning how to safely conduct burns on their properties, while also securing the necessary permits for burns to take place.