To support regional resilience in the face of climate change, we partnered with fire and fuels management experts, climate science researchers, and Tribal knowledge holders to host over twenty individuals from across southern California for a week-long training. Participants gained foundational certification and integral knowledge on fire and fuels management, climate impacts, and cultural awareness, preparing them for a career in wildland firefighting and fuels management.
The Climate Science Alliance team is working collaboratively with our partners to elevate Tribal Fire Management and the role of cultural burning. Despite the fact that cultural burning has been practiced by Indigenous peoples since time immemorial, past and current regulations and requirements serve as significant barriers to bringing good fire to the land in southern California. As climate change continues to exacerbate conditions leading to large, catastrophic fires that have large-scale economic, cultural, and social impacts, it’s more important than ever to uplift Indigenous knowledges of cultural and prescribed fire management and advance a model for co-management of all ancestral homelands.
To support this larger effort, the Climate Science Alliance worked with partners from across southern California to host the first in a series of events to advance Wildland Fire and Fuels Training. Over 20 participants took part in a week-long training program on February 14 - 18, 2022, gaining foundational certification in wildland fire training and integral knowledge of climate impacts and Tribal cultural awareness. This training program was led by the Climate Science Alliance Tribal Working Group and the Southern California Interagency Wildland Fire and Fuels Cadre, with support from partnerships stemming from years of cross-disciplinary collaborations.
The first three days of the training consisted of S-130 (firefighter training) and S-190 (introduction to wildland fire behavior) courses, led by U.S. Forest Service instructor Mark Rhodes and La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal Fire Chief Wesley Ruise Jr. at the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians gymnasium.
On day 4, participants and instructors convened on Kumeyaay land at Cuyamac (Cuyamaca Rancho State Park) alongside partners from California State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service to learn from Dr. Stan Rodriguez about the cultural and traditional uses of fire and the importance of bringing good fire back to the land.
For the final day of the training, participants were once again hosted by the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians to hear from Dr. Megan Jennings, Climate Science Alliance Advisor and researcher at the Institute for Ecological Management and Monitoring at San Diego State University, to learn about how climate change will impact fuel availability and fire characteristics, and discuss how it can influence fire management strategies. Instructors Stephen Filmore (U.S. Forest Service) and Len Nielson (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) concluded the coursework, and participants received their certification.
The Wildland Fire and Fuels Training program would not be possible without the Southern California Interagency Wildland Fire and Fuels Cadre, an amazing group of agency partners who contributed their time and expertise to plan and implement the training. A special thank you to Joelene Tamm and Chief Wesley Ruise Jr. for their leadership, vision, and perseverance to bring the idea to life. We are always grateful to the Tribal Working Group, for their guidance and leadership in this project and others. Thank you to the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County and California Department of Conservation for providing foundational support for this training opportunity, and to the Strategic Growth Council’s Climate Change Research Program for supporting the Resilient Restoration project, of which this training effort stems from.