Celebrating a big year of prescribed fire; how Cal Fire’s 2023 season has outpaced the last

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AUBURN – This year has been a big one for Cal Fire as the agency has been able to work on more prescribed burns than wildfires in the past five years. 

For Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer unit, 2023 has been a nice change of pace after back-to-back busy fire seasons the years prior. 

Assistant Chief Steven Robinson said his unit has been able to keep the number of wildfires to a smaller size and do more work preventing future blazes. 

“More years like this last year would be great. We weren’t out battling as many wildfires. We were able to get more prescribed burning done, more treatment done,” Robinson said. 

More work is done within the unit, but also statewide. 

“We were able to get more than we normally would’ve gotten done just because we had the resources available to get those projects completed,” Robinson said. 

Cal Fire’s fire seasons run from July 1 to June 30. 

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When looking at the past few years, the 2022 to 2023 timeframe stands out the most, with 37,826 acres treated from prescribed burning. 

From August 2023 through the Fall, fire crews have gotten a big head start for next season, with 16,086 acres treated so far. 

“It comes down to Mother Nature. Giving us the opportunity of getting out there either earlier in the year and lasting later into the year,” Richard Cordova, public information officer with Cal Fire said. 

Typically, Cal Fire ends its prescribed burning in June as fire season ramps up in July. 

But this year, many agencies kept the burning going through July, with more projects in the Fall. 

“With the weather this year, we were able to burn later and start burning earlier and get more of those projects done,” Cordova said.

The progress not only on treatment but keeping larger fires contained with more help between agencies. 

“We are very fortunate by the Governor’s office on receiving additional resources, additional firefighters, aircraft, so we were able to jump on these fires very quickly and our main mission within our department is to keep fires 10 acres or less,” Cordova said. 

The U.S. Forest Service has had a productive year, conducting 51,614 acres of forest land through the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

USFS crews have also performed mechanical treatment on 261,00 acres of land, which includes wood chipping, mastication, and the removal of trees. 

Since 2022, federal, state, local, and independent groups have committed to increasing prescribed burn projects to 400,000 acres per year. Cal Fire said this year has been a good start. 

“Over 850 acres of wildlands, we did 40 of those with prescribed burns. We’ve started the project, you just continue working on the goal,” Robinson said. 

Robinson said as we head into winter, the work for their unit continues and urges the community to keep up with work around their homes. 

“Now is when you want to start cutting back the brush and getting piles made and if you are going to burn, get that stuff ready to be able to burn it later in the spring, when it dries out and you can burn it,” Robinson said. 

For a look at Cal Fire’s current wildfire data, visit their website. 

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