Better Fire: Informing and improving prescribed fire on private lands in California

Project Overview

Project Type: Enhanced State Grants
Funds awarded in 2018: $24,734.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2019
Grant Recipient: University of California Extension
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Jeffrey Stackhouse
University of California Cooperative Extension

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, technical assistance, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: wildlife


    Prescribed fire is well recognized as a cost-effective and uniquely beneficial land management tool, with
    utility for range management, ecological restoration, fuels reduction, wildlife habitat enhancement, and
    more. In California, most prescribed burning happens on federal lands, and private lands burning is
    largely planned and overseen by CAL FIRE through their Vegetation Management Program (VMP). After
    decades of decline, the VMP is now expanding, and CAL FIRE has made major investments in new staff in
    order to meet their statewide prescribed fire goals. This rapid expansion of the VMP, and increasing
    interest and demand from landowners, has created a training need within CAL FIRE that cannot be met
    by existing federal fire coursework or via internal agency expertise. Other agencies and organizations
    that work with private landowners are encountering similar challenges: there is significant and growing
    demand for prescribed fire among agricultural producers, but the agencies lack the expertise and
    professional development opportunities to advise landowners and develop prescribed fire plans that
    meet their resource management objectives. For this project, we developed a series of educational videos on conducting prescribed burns in California's diverse ecosystems, geared toward professionals within CAL FIRE, the Natural Resources Conservation
    Service, Cooperative Extension, and other agencies and organizations that work with and advise
    agricultural producers on prescribed fire-related efforts. The module was modeled after and
    include components of the federal RX-310 course (Introduction to Fire Effects), but was
    abbreviated to increase opportunities for participation, and targeted specifically toward issues and
    topics on private lands.

    Project objectives:

    Through this project, we hoped to build capacity for resource management-driven prescribed fire on private lands in California. Specifically, we planed to: 1) record a series of very targeted webinars (minimum of 10) on specific uses of prescribed fire, given by experts who know the topics well; 2) compile a series of concise fact sheets that reflect the content of the webinars, which will later be made publicly available as a UCANR 8000 Series publication.

    • In collaboration with the target agencies (CAL FIRE, NRCS, and Cooperative Extension), we identified topics for web-based fire effects modules focused on the utility of prescribed fire for range improvement and other private lands management priorities. These modules would focus on burn planning, including identifying burn objectives, developing prescribed fire prescriptions, and evaluating effectiveness of control on target plant species.
    • Recruit an experienced cadre to lead the modules in partnership with the principal investigators. Cadre members would have expertise in range management, fuels management, and fire behavior, and have familiarity with programs and policies that enable prescribed fire on private lands.

    Use this project as a pilot to explore future opportunities and models of training on these topics.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.