The Mid Klamath Watershed Council (MKWC) is a non-profit watershed restoration organization dedicated to the restoring of healthy rivers, forests, and communities in the mid-Klamath region of Northern California.
MKWC’s programs include Fire and Fuels, Fisheries, Watershed Education, Plants (invasive species mitigation), and Community. Of these, the Fire and Fuels program is one of the most robust. This program is an umbrella for the Orleans/Somes Bar Fire Safe (OSBFSC) and more recently for the Happy Camp Fire Safe Council as well. OSBFSC has been engaging the mid-Klamath communities around fire issues since 2001.
The Mission Statement of the OSBFSC: “The purpose of the Orleans/ Somes Bar FSC is to help plan, implement, and monitor the reinstatement of historic fire regimes primarily through the use of strategic fuels reduction in a manner that protects life and property, improves forest health, and enhances the resources valued by its stakeholders.” With the support of grant funding from federal, state, and private sources MKWC has facilitated fuels reduction, including mowing, brushing, and prescribed fire on over 3000 acres in the mid-Klamath bioregion. We also coordinate fire-safe and fire-ecology education events and are involved in regional and national policy work. MKWC has taken a leadership role in establishing and maintaining a Firewise Community status in Orleans, California since 2011.
Western Klamath Restoration Partnership
The Western Klamath Restoration Partnership (WKRP) is a collaborative effort to create opportunities for dialogue and collaboration between diverse groups, and a new vision for fire management in the Klamath Mountains. The Partnership has agreed to stop deferring fire risk to future generations by getting good fire on the ground, both through prescribed fire and managed wildfire at the right time and place, to get ahead of wildfires in the heat of summer. WKRP has allowed diverse stakeholders to come together to accomplish work by identifying Zones of Agreement where all parties agree upslope restoration needs to occur. Together, the group created a plan for restoring fire resilience at the landscape scale, founded upon Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and practices and concepts outlined in the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. This plan incorporates ecological, economic, social and cultural values spatially across a 1.2 million acre landscape to determine where restoration treatments would yield the most beneficial results with the least amount of impacts. WKRP is a collaborative land and fire management effort between Tribal, Federal, and Non-Governmental (NGO) stakeholders in the Western Klamath Mountains of Northern California. It is based on 20 years of collaborative work between diverse partners, ultimately forming the WKRP in 2013. Three WKRP projects totaling over 50,000 acres in the communities of Happy Camp, Somes Bar, and Sawyers Bar are in the planning phase. The furthest along, the Somes Bar Integrated Fire Management Project (Somes Project), which proposes treating 5,500 acres around four high risk neighborhoods in the Somes Bar community, is designed to: *restore fire process after a century of exclusion *protect mid-slope inholdings from wildfires *allow for the use of managed wildfire in adjacent wilderness areas *protect and enhance cultural resources *create restoration byproducts from mechanical thinning treatments.
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Klamath River Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX)
Each fall since 2014, MKWC has played a major role in planning and hosting the annual TREX event in Orleans and Happy Camp, California. Along with partners; the Nature Conservancy, the Karuk Tribe, the Cultural Fire Management Council, the US Forest Service, and others, we utilize a local Type III Incident Management Team, the same structure used to deal with the complexities of wildfires, to implement controlled burns on 400-800 acres between Weitchpec and Happy Camp. This team of 90 fire lighters consists of locals at all levels of training, as well as fire professionals from around the country and around the world who have been coming back every fall to support this effort to restore fire process in the Klamath Mountains.
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Fire-adapted Landscapes And Safe Homes (FLASH)
FLASH is a landowner reimbursement program that empowers community members to do fuels reduction in defensible space or roadside areas near their homes. Funded by the California Fire Safe Council and administered by the Humboldt County Fire Safe Council, this is a popular program with residents and landowners who need a little encouragement to create and then maintain important fuel breaks near their homes. MKWC has coordinated a local FLASH program since 2011.