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Prescribed fires, also known as prescribed burns,
refer to the controlled application of fire

by a team of fire experts under specified weather conditions
to restore health to ecosystems that depend on fire.

After many years of fire exclusion, an ecosystem that needs periodic fire becomes unhealthy.
Trees are stressed by overcrowding; fire-dependent species disappear; and flammable fuels build up and become hazardous. The right fire at the right place at the right time:

  • Reduces hazardous fuels, protecting human communities from extreme fires;

  • Minimizes the spread of pest insects and disease;

  • Removes unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem;

  • Provides forage for game;

  • Improves habitat for threatened and endangered species;

  • Recycles nutrients back to the soil; and

  • Promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants.

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Prescribed burning by Indigenous people was once ubiquitous throughout California.
Settler colonialism brought immense investments in fire suppression by the United States Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CALFIRE) to protect timber and structures, effectively limiting prescribed burning in California.
Despite this, fire-dependent American Indian communities such as the Karuk and Yurok peoples, stalwartly advocate for expanding prescribed burning as a part of their efforts
to revitalize their culture and sovereignty.

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