Happy New Year! As 2024 dawns, we are taking a moment this week to review the incredible stories we featured on our blog in 2023. We published 40 stories in 2023, over a quarter of which were written by new authors to the blog. In September, we also transitioned this platform from the FAC Net Blog to the Fire Networks Blog, to better represent the longstanding partnership between FAC Net, the Fire Learning Network (FLN), the Indigenous Peoples Burning Network (IPBN), and Prescribed Fire Training Exchanges (TREX). You can learn more about this partnership on the Fire Networks website.
Here are just a few of our favorite blogs from 2023. Many thanks to our authors, whether it was your first time writing or your tenth. We look forward to sharing even more lessons, takeaways, inspirations, and reflections on this blog in 2024.
By Lane B. Johnson and Gwiiwizens aka Ricky W. DeFoe
Lane B. Johnson is a Research Forester at the University of Minnesota Cloquet Forestry Center. Gwiiwizens, aka Ricky W. Defoe, is an Elder and Pipe Carrier of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.
“Fire-shaped biocultural diversity promotes the collective remembrance needed to overturn misguided ways of thinking and being. We need places where we can be awed and wowed by the beauty and function of wild places, and our human ability to enhance these places by giving of ourselves. We need opportunities for people to be immersed in the effects of good fire and literally taste the fruits, smell the scents, hear the sounds, listen, and begin to know what it means to live in relationship with fire. These awesome sensory experiences, provided appropriate cultural context, can be positively impactful, and carried by individuals for their lifetimes.” Read more.
By Andrea Bustos and José Luis Duce Aragüés
Andrea Bustos and José Luis Duce Aragüés are Prescribed Fire Training Specialists for the Watershed Research and Training Center (also known as The Watershed Center) based in Hayfork, CA. Andrea, originally from Ecuador, and José, originally from Spain, bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to their work, having burned with communities in many countries around the world.
“The importance of the relationship between people and fire remains consistent around the world, but the different landscapes and social dynamics in various places will determine how the relationship actually functions. There are universal truths and realities about how humans and fire relate, and yet it is very specific to each place in terms of how you approach it, and how it’s received and planned for.” Read more.
By Bradley Massey
Bradley Massey (he/him) is a forestry student at Alabama A&M University, originally from Huntsville, Alabama. He is an USDA/1890 National Scholar, and a co-founder of the FireGeneration Collaborative.
“In my teens, I knew I wanted to go to college, but I did not know about forestry at that time. At 23, I decided to enroll in Alabama A&M University. Now at 26, I am entering my final years as a student there. A&M, as we call it, is one of the few Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with a nationally-accredited forestry program. This program fuels a focus on fire and its role in forest management. Outside class, I was offered a chance to make a few bucks checking out backpack pumps and other fire gear for the school. Soon after, I was invited to a prescribed burn.” Read more.
By Bill Brash and Tom Gerber
William (Bill) Brash is president of the New Jersey Fire Safety Council (NJFSC) a statewide organization working to create community fire adaptation and resiliency, and a member of FAC Net. Tom Gerber is the B1 Section Firewarden for the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, and owner of the Quoexin Bogs cranberry farm in the Pine Barrens region of the state.
“Young Tom Gerber grew up on the cranberry farm at Quoexin Bogs, learning how to perform prescribed burns every spring from his father Paul and uncle Ross. Tom would eventually become Fire Warden with the NJ Forest Fire Service in the area, following in the footsteps of his father Paul and grandfather Julius. The Gerber family has dedicated three generations of men to serve as Fire Wardens in the Medford area since Julius began the tradition in 1917. All three Gerber men worked hundreds of fires during their careers.” Read more.
By Logan Krahenbuhl
Logan Krahenbuhl coordinates the Plumas Underburn Cooperative for the Plumas County Fire Safety Council and is a burn crew member with The Nature Conservancy’s Northern America Fire program.
“In my short time working in fire and fuels management I’ve been able to see and converse with people adversely affected by fire and those actively taking that once-negatively associated subject and turning it into a tool for good. This tool was used for thousands of years on this California landscape I am so deeply connected to, shaping it through Indigenous stewardship and lightning ignitions. I think it is so important for people residing within fire adapted communities to understand how fire does its job on the landscape, how prescribed fire operations work, and why we want to utilize prescribed fire on our landscapes. More importantly, folks need to understand that people and the communities they belong to are ingrained in their landscape. Choices we make today will have large consequences down the line.” Read more.