Tribal crews help to return good fire through RBTREX
In these first weeks of the summer wildfire season, we’re looking back on the recent spring burn season with gratitude. Crews work year-round to prepare the forests to receive fire in the spring and fall under precise conditions and a controlled environment that calls for many hands on deck. As descendants of the first, best stewards of the land, tribal restoration forestry crew members bring essential knowledge and capacity to the effort to return fire as medicine for highly depleted landscapes—calling on Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge about how fire shapes and renews a healthy ecosystem.
This spring, seven members of Lomakatsi Restoration Project’s Tribal Ecological Forestry Training Program crew joined the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest (RRSNF) and Zig Zag Interagency Hotshot Crew to burn about 100 acres on the High Cascades Ranger District near Butte Falls—the second opportunity of the season for our tribal crew members and crew leaders and agency partners to team up through the Rogue Basin Prescribed Fire Training Exchange.
“[The Zigzag Hotshots] melded us into their crew, and we went ahead with the work—we learned a lot from them,” said Tribal Crew Support Associate Dallas Yellowhammer Soliz, an enrolled member of The Klamath Tribes and descendant of the Modoc, Apache, Dee’Ni, Ute and Yaqui. “We learned a different way of underburning than what we learned on the other underburn with TREX, on different terrain each time. I’d like to do a lot more underburning. Afterward, everything burned out, and the big, legacy trees looked good.”
Tribal Crew Support Associate Carl Jackson, an enrolled member of The Klamath Tribes, said it was a valuable experience to learn different strategies for underburning at each site and interact with other crews. This year, RBTREX facilitated rich opportunities for crew members to burn on federal lands, fulfilling an essential step in the restoration cycle that crews work toward daily, from cultural monitoring and forest stand surveys to cutting and piling, preparing the land to receive good fire.
“I’m proud to support this crew; it’s good to have them outside working in the forest,” he said. “In this digital world, they need to be out here, and this is our peoples’ way.”
RBTREX, which is supported by Rogue Forest Partners, is a collaboration between local agencies, non-profits, and community organizations dedicated to advancing local capacity for utilizing prescribed fire in ecological restoration through hands-on training opportunities. RBTREX is coordinated by The Nature Conservancy in Oregon with funding from The Fire Learning Network and operated through cooperative agreements between TNC and US Forest Service.