Published April 26, 2024

This week, a Lomakatsi team of 11 inter-tribal Oregon Conservation Corps crew members in our Tribal Youth Ecological Forestry Training Program and two crew leaders supported a BLM Oregon & Washington Medford District prescribed underburn through the Rogue Basin Prescribed Fire Exchange. The crew was stationed on a holding line, responsible for ensuring the fire remained within the adjacent section of the 125 acre burn area, near Grub Gulch south of Jacksonville and east of Ruch. Several crew members also had the opportunity to join in the lighting using drip torches, under the guidance of BLM and Grayback Forestry, Inc. fire management staff. A shout out to Lomakatsi Senior Crew Manager Braulio Maya Cortes and Tribal Crew Manager Ryan Puckett for providing leadership and coaching during the burn operation. Last week, five Lomakatsi Oregon Conservation Corps crew members from our Rogue Valley Youth Ecological Forestry Training Program supported another BLM prescribed underburn in the same general area.

Prescribed underburns are an essential tool for improving forest health, maintaining restoration treatments, reducing wildfire risk, and bringing many ecological benefits to the fire-adapted ecosystems of southwest Oregon. The Rogue Basin Prescribed Fire Exchange (RBTREX) is a collaborative of agency and non-profit partners (including ours!) that is increasing local capacity by creating opportunities for diverse fire practitioners to gain hands-on experience and advance their certifications in prescribed understory burns.

We are grateful to RBTREX for creating these opportunities, and to the Bureau of Land Management Medford District—with whom we’ve partnered for over two decades—and their fire management team for integrating our crew members into prescribed fire operations. We thank Grayback Forestry for the expertise and capacity they bring to support prescribed fire across southwest Oregon. And a big thank you to Oregon Conservation Corps (Oregon Youth Works) for providing primary funding for these two Lomakatsi training programs.

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