The CalResilient campaign that was recently launched is looking to encourage viable solutions to California’s wildfire problems. Wildfires in recent years have taken lives, caused billions of dollars in property damage, and released significant levels of emissions. Sponsored by the California Cattle Council (CCC), the effort is seeking the development of a more fire-resilient future for the state.
“This campaign is really about trying to educate the public and advocate for change in a couple of areas. One of those is prescribed fire and the use of good fire on the ground to reduce fuel loads. People are so afraid of wildfires because of the devastation of the past few years,” said Dave Daley, Butte County rancher and current CCC Chair. “Secondarily is to emphasize the role that cattle can play in reducing fuel loads through managed grazing.”
Last year was one of the worst years on record for California wildfires, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Nearly 10,000 fires burned more than 4.2 million acres. One of the goals of the CalResilient campaign is to promote science-based solutions for mitigating wildfires. Addressing fuel loads on rangelands is a major component of helping reduce wildfire risk. “There’s places that have not been grazed for decades for a variety of reasons and those are just one match away from a catastrophe,” Daley noted.
Research conducted by the University of California shows that grazing is an effective means for removing fine fuels from rangelands. However, some areas have been left unmanaged for so long grazing may need to be accompanied by practices such as prescribed burning. “I don’t want to suggest that there’s a silver bullet or a single solution, but we have to start with incremental change in lots of areas,” Daley explained.
The CalResilient campaign looks to educate policymakers, regulators, and the general public on the value of grazing and prescribed burning. Progress is already being made with initiatives working to increase access for grazing and the development of Prescribed Burn Associations. “I think we have their attention. Now we have to get them to understand how cattle are part of the solution and prescribed fire is part of the solution,” said Daley.