A Prescribed Burn Association (PBA) is being developed on the Central Coast thanks to a Fire Prevention Grant from CAL FIRE of nearly $380,000. The grant was secured by the San Benito County UC Cooperative Extension Office in collaboration with the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County. The grant will be used to conduct five prescribed burns and provide outreach and education on the process of prescribed burning.
“A Prescribed Burn Association or a PBA I think will be a new term for a lot of people,” said Devii Rao, Livestock and Natural Resources Advisor for San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties. “Improving forage will be a goal of the PBA, but there will be lots of other goals that people will be trying to achieve through prescribed burning. Things like improving fire safety, controlling non-native invasive weeds, and habitat restoration as well.”
The PBA will function similarly to a Range Improvement Association as a collaborative effort to perform prescribed burns, however, the PBA will be more encompassing. The PBA will include farmers and ranchers, as well as land management agencies and anyone else who is interested in the practice. “We will be doing lots of workshops, teaching people how to burn, teaching people about burn ecology, teaching people about permit requirements, liability associated with burning,” Rao noted.
The interest in prescribed burning has grown in recent years in light of the increased severity of wildfires in California. According to CAL FIRE, wildfires release an average of 18 to 25 percent more CO2 and other emissions per acre than prescribed burns. The practice of prescribed burning can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also achieving management goals of landowners and reducing wildfire risk.
“People are really seeing the value of it and they are seeing that it’s better to have several smaller burns throughout the year as opposed to these giant, catastrophic wildfires that cause so much damage,” Rao explained. “If we can have many smaller burns, we can achieve resource conservation goals, we can achieve forage improvement goals and we can improve fire safety all at the same time.”