Fighting fire with fire


Hey, it's Patricia Murphy Wednesday, and this is Seattle now it feels likely resigned ourselves to wildfires, smoke and destruction just part of our lives now but it doesn't have to be that way for thousands of years. Native tribes managed land in the West and prevented catastrophic fires like the ones we're seeing today by using fire intentionally in a minute we'll talk with Ricco rourke about how prescribed burning could solve the West wildfire problem but first let's get you caught on. Forty five miles of US highway twelve over white pass had to be closed. Firefighters battled a new blaze yesterday other places are dealing with historically bad smoky air. It's so bad. The mariners had to postpone last night and tonight home games against the giants. They'll pick up the series tonight and tomorrow night at San Francisco's Oracle Park the hazardous smoke is expected to lift towards the weekend. Seattle City Council has voted to fund council members. Shama saw legal battle against recall the council back the measure seventy one several Seattle residents are leading the effort to recall saw want four six alleged violations including the night. She supposedly allow demonstrators into City Hall during nighttime protest back in June. And Dick's drive in is heading out on the Road Yep. The local burger chain is launching a food truck in November sort of hardcore fans may be disappointed to know you won't be able to get fries. If it still sounds like a good deal, you can vote on where you'd like the food truck to end up on their website. Like. So much of two thousand twenty wildfires are extreme. This year people have lost their homes and in some cases, their lives forests have always been managed but not always this way native tribes have a very different relationship with the land. One thing some tribes do is set fires on purpose to manage lands and make destructive fires less common. Rick Work is the fire field coordinator for the cultural. Fire Management Council in Northern California and a member of the Europe tribe Rick. Thanks for taking time to be on the show Oh. You're very welcome. It's my pleasure. So the term you use for fires that are set on purpose to manage the land is prescribed burning. What's the goal when you do one of these burns? For us, there's a lot of different objectives I started out with just our cultural resources, which is the Hazel we use for a baskets which would carry our medicine, our babies our food in the Hazel that we use is a fire adapted plant. We need the fire to pass through it to create new growth long straight shoots. Elevated in to habitat and prairie restoration and looking at the beneficial uses fire. Removing invasive? Helping purify water as so many things. As you know safety. Right and obviously these were techniques that were developed over hundreds of years. Can you tell me how a prescribed burn changes the landscape? The way we use fire and it's been for thousands and thousands of years for one of the few tribes that has not been displaced in northern America. So we've been here since the very beginning of time and we've adapted with this land, we adapted with fire and the land is at afterwards fire were. A fire culture people for California I heard a friend of mine say that we used to burn between four and twelve million dollars annually. Wow and it brings back our food sources and our animals and our medicine plants and. For me and my crew into folks who work is it gives us a connection to the earth. That is profound. To meet a client fire earth, it's like apply prayer. Nowadays there's such fuel loading the amount of conifers that are encroaching into our systems, stolen things off balance, and without being able to put fire down on the ground. It's Turning into this could flag. Of you know, it's not if but it's when it's GonNa burn to cite these other fires burning a super high severity, it can be. Mitigated. It doesn't have to be like this. I JUST WANNA make sure we're clear because for some people the idea that burning stuff to stop burning more stuff doesn't really compute. So why do we want to burn things to stop a bigger bird? Well. Some of the places where we go in, I literally have to crawl through the brush because I can't walk to put in our flags to brush is so thick that one eight goes echoes big. The the forest floor is just littered with one hundred years of debris. Some of the places hasn't seen fire one, hundred and thirty years. That's kind of like if your house was full of newspapers and you're playing with matches. You're going to get fired but if you don't have any newspapers in your house is probably not going to get a fire. Now you teach people how to do this you give classes how do you talk to them about it because obviously. Many of us were raised in a culture where fire has a very bad PR problem we don't want fire. So what do you tell people who are interested in learning about this kind of management? Well, right now, everybody's seen fire as a monster as the. CAN BE I don't WanNa go out and fight with fire. I'd rather work with fire. And use it as a tool instead of having to engage on this level and putting so many people's lives and property and Health risk. You know you may not even be around a fire and you're still at risk. Fortunately down where I'm from. Everybody wants out there. We know it's a part of the landscape were part of the landscape we insert ourselves into the landscape. And help manage it. And so many different levels and. The support that we get from our community and the trust that they allow me to do what I do. Is One of the driving forces that may be so passionate about what I do showing people the lighter side of fire. Tell me about your relationship with fire Rick when I let a match I, watch our burns. I Love Campfire Yeah as you start trying to. Just, be with Flyer to walk with fire through the landscape. It's it's humbling in its empowering and Sony different things that come along with his life changing. I'm curious how you see our current state of affairs is seems like we're at a point in history now. Where we can no longer ignore. The catastrophes playing out in front of us. So for a guy like yourself who understands this? What do you see six months from now? I see a lot of people. With big fear of fire. And looking at fired historically. Usually walks in the same place. Managing these fire footprints that were getting. I think is a really big step in it. Because now we have these huge areas where the fields are already gone. If we could manage that and then work around that. And learn from that. I think it's a good way to start. People educating themselves, reach out to people because you know people in the fire world. They're more than willing to share their knowledge. By fire, hose and have caches of of fire equipment around you name it. And losing trainings on what to do. You know 'cause removing fuel doesn't mean there's GonNa be another fire it could be a barbecue. You know. So let's be good neighbors and friends and family. You know. Let's pull together 'cause. If. We're GONNA fight with fire. WE'RE GONNA lose. We need to work with fire. That's really what I'm hearing from you is that our relationship with our environment needs to change. Yeah, it really does not just started relationship but our culture. We need to bring fire back into our culture. Because it creates an keeps ballots. And when things he'd overloaded neither direction that are balanced it's often bad's going to happen. Sums GonNa fall somewhere. Ricco Rourke I really appreciate your insight. Thank you. Patricia it's been a pleasure call anytime. and Hey people up there. Together we're strong we can do this. If you WANNA learn about prescribed burns checkout the nature conservancies, training programs. There's a link in the show notes. SEATTLE. Now is produced by Clermont Green Sophie Read Caroline Chamberlain Gomez and Jason Piano. Matt Jorgensen does our music. I'm Patricia Murphy. Tomorrow. Hey I'm Patricia Murphy host of KYW's Seattle. Now podcast K. U., a. w. an NPR rely on the support of listeners to keep you up to date on facts tell important stories and hold our leaders accountable. If you value this service, help us meet our fall fund raising goal by pitching in any amount before September thirtieth use the link in the show notes to make your gift. Thanks.

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