Editor’s note: The Fire Learning Network (FLN) and the Watershed Research and Training Center (WRTC) have been partners for close to 20 years. FLN is one of the Fire Networks, and WRTC is the umbrella organization for FAC Net. WRTC recently developed an interactive StoryMap to highlight the FLN’s many influences on their fire management programs, including a timeline of events between 2006 and 2023. Both the FLN and WRTC have made significant contributions to the movement for living better with fire in California. Portions of the text from this blog are taken directly from the StoryMap, which we encourage you to click into and interact with.

The Fire Learning Network (FLN) is a network of forward thinking fire practitioners around the United States. Practitioners in the FLN come together through a united focus on specific landscapes, representing more focused, smaller fire learning networks at a regional scale. FLN provides leaders of these regional networks with training and capacity building opportunities focused on building relationships that enable ecosystem restoration, sustainable workforce development, and wildfire adaptation practices. FLN is also one of four networks represented by the Fire Networks partnership

 The Watershed Research and Training Center (WRTC), based in Hayfork, CA, is a non-profit organization working to create meaningful partnerships for land stewardship and empower the local community. WRTC has established partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service, Trinity County Resources Conservation District, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), local volunteer fire departments, and other relevant entities at the federal, state, and local levels. WRTC is FAC Net’s umbrella organization.

WRTC’s fire management philosophy and programming has been influenced through a long history of engagements with FLN. This recently completed StoryMap highlights key moments over the history of the partnership, in which FLN’s involvement helped develop institutional changes, policy considerations, and new approaches to funding and grant structures related to fire adaptation.

Some highlights from the StoryMap:

Historical Timeline of Events, 2006 – 2023

The StoryMap timeline covers 2006 – 2023, highlighting important events, as well as the overall narrative of the FLN’s influence on the WRTC fire management philosophy and programming. 

This timeline represents one part of a much larger movement in California for the better management of fire. Many of the events included here were heavily shaped by additional organizations and players in California.

FLN’s Influence on WRTC’s Fire Programming

The StoryMap details how FLN’s support and partnership helped to develop WRTC’s Fire Management Program, from a local scale in Trinity County to a statewide effort through the California Department of Conservation’s Regional Forest and Fire Capacity (RFFC) Program. 

The Fire Management Program’s team mentors prescribed fire practitioners across the state, providing guidance on inclusive working environments, risk management, objectives, burn planning and implementation, resulting in California having a broader and deeper pool of prescribed fire practitioner partners. WRTC is focused on helping community-based prescribed fire efforts (like Prescribed Burn Associations) build their capacity to implement safe and effective community-led prescribed fire. A large part of the work also includes cross pollination of ideas and lessons learned across different geographic areas.

Two photos: left, two people in firefighting gear smile and put their fists up into the air. Right, a person in firefighting gear stands in a recently burned area from a prescribed fire.
The RFFC program is supporting WRTC in conducting fire resilience and local workforce development trainings. In the left participants in the Spanish TREX from North Bay Jobs with Justice; we call this ‘building the bridge’. In the right working with great cultural practicioners partners and learning together with TERA. Photo credit: Jennifer Mora and WRTC.

Valuable Lessons from a Nearly 20-Year Partnership

This work gets done through partnerships. No single organization can change the fire system alone; it takes a sustained movement.

Keep learning. Surround yourself with passionate people who bring different perspectives.

Fire is for everyone. To transform our fire future we need to work differently. We need to connect people to fire and to each other.

To read the complete StoryMap and interact more with the story of FLN and WRTC, click here.

This project was made possible in part through support provided by the USDA Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy, under the terms of the PERFACT III Agreement #21-CA-11132543-096. The content and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of such agency or The Nature Conservancy, and no official endorsement should be inferred. In addition, the work upon which this publication is based was funded in part through a Regional Forest and Fire Capacity grant awarded by the California Department of Conservation.