Fire experts train in area forests

Fire experts train in area forests

16 September 2012

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USA/Argentina/Mexico/Puerto Rico/Spain – Forest experts from Argentina, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Spain are coming to northern New Mexico to train at the 2012 Spanish Language Prescribed Fire Training Exchange, which begins in the village of Jemez Springs Monday and ends Sept. 30 in the Santa Fe National Forest.

Hosted by the Fire Learning Network, The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico and Santa Fe National Forest, the unique fire training program will bring Spanish and bilingual forest experts together to share and learn about prescribed burns, fire management and conservation practices on grasslands and forests, as well as strengthen local partnerships.

Jeremy Bailey, Fire Learning Network coordinator for the Conservancy’s North America Initiative, will lead the two-week exchange.

“This training offers exposure to new people, places and techniques,” Bailey said. “Everyone will go home with new skills that can be integrated into land management plans on diverse landscapes around the world.”

The training will be a combination of classroom learning and hands-on experiences.

Participants are scheduled to implement scientifically-based prescribed burns in the Santa Fe National Forest and Jemez Mountains.

Nearly a century of aggressive fire suppression has prevented natural fires that once burned regularly, promoting new growth and diversity. The prescribed burns will help create forests that mirror our historic state which are the most resilient.

“This partnership improves our capacity for restoration and fuel reduction,” said Bruce Hill, Santa Fe National Forest Public Affairs Officer. “Improving the health of our forests will help prevent unnatural, devastating wildfires like the ones we’ve seen in recent years. It also improves wildlife habitat and helps protect communities and water supplies.”

The 23 participants will also visit the scene of some recent wildfires and prescribed burn areas to witness those fires’ effects.

The fire exchange programs began in 2008 to help address the nation’s shortfall of qualified burners. Since 2008, the Fire Learning Network has hosted 19 exchanges, resulting in more than 65,000 acres treated. This is the second time the Fire Learning Network has offered this specialized training in New Mexico. Portions of the 2010 training exchange were featured in a video about how fire is being used to protect the City of Santa Fe’s watershed.




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