April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 39

our culture depends on putting fire
on the land, " says Margo Robbins,
member of the Yurok Tribe and
executive director of the Cultural
Fire Management Council. The
Yurok people are basket weavers,
and this culturally important activity relies on using hazel sticks that
are produced after hazel bushes are
burned. " The art of basket weaving
was dying because of fire exclusion
and the fire suppression policy
that has been in place for over 100
years, " Robbins says.
Fire suppression of the past also
has riddled the tribe's mountain
terrain with an extremely dense
underbrush. This made the community concerned for its elders.
" We live in a very remote region, " Robbins says. If a wildfire
occurred, they worried the elders
might not be able to escape. " For
those two reasons, we started
down this path to reclaim our right
to use fire, " she explains.
" Our first burn took place on
seven acres in a traditional hazel
gathering place and was celebrated
by the entire community, " Robbins
says. The need to continue these
burns resulted in the 2013 formation of the Cultural Fire Management Council, a community-based
nonprofit composed primarily of
tribal members.
Because the tribe's ancestral territory spans a half-a-million acres,
the group began working on conducting larger burns through The
Nature Conservancy's Prescribed
Fire Training Exchanges (TREX)
program. The program invites
firefighters to places across the
country that need prescribed burns
and provides them with real-world
	

PHOTO COURTESY OF MECKLENBURG COUNTY PARK AND RECREATION

A Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation staff member helps conduct a
prescribed burn.

training. Through the program, the
council hosts two TREX burns a
year, with up to 30. Tribal members also have received training
and help families conduct small
burns around their homes, clearing underbrush from their personal
property. In seven years of burning,
there have been no escapes, thanks
to their training through the TREX
program, Robbins says.
Prescribed burns require scraping a fire line around an area that
will be burned, cutting the brush
back and digging down to the soil
for a buffer of many feet. The
methodical process goes line by
line across a landscape and places people to monitor and put out
any sparks outside the fire line,
Robbins says. " You keep control
of it, and that's the difference between a prescribed burn and wildfire, " she adds.
Burns leave trees mostly unharmed and produces " biochar "
that improves soil health and
cleans the water that flows through
it. New growth comes back faster,

and water becomes more plentiful since overgrowth does not demand the resource.
" I think it's really important
for anybody and everybody [who
have] responsibility for tracks of
land to learn how to take care of
it in the best way possible, " Robbins says.
" Prescribed fire can be used to
reduce the risk of wildfires, but
also helps restore fire to natural areas that depend on it, " says
Marek Smith, North America fire
director with The Nature Conservancy. Communities living in
fire-prone or adapted landscapes
can explore this and other wildfire
adaption practices (tinyurl.com/
lnofre9e) provided by the Fire
Adapted Communities Learning
Network. If park and recreation
agencies want to learn more, they
can begin by getting involved in
their state's prescribed fire council
(www.prescribedfire.net).
Jennifer Fulcher is NRPA's
Web Editor (jnguyen@nrpa.org).

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http://www.tinyurl.com/lnofre9e http://www.tinyurl.com/lnofre9e http://www.prescribedfire.net

April 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of April 2021 - Parks & Recreation

April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 2
April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 3
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April 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2021
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https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
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