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Forest Futures Salon: 2021 Fire Season

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation
Published on February 2, 2022

The 2021 Fire Season in the Sierra was longer and more devastating than any other… but what happens when the smoke clears? CAL FIRE Unit Chief, Brian Estes, and the head of the Tahoe National Forest, Eli Ilano joined our Forest Futures Salon to discuss the recent fire season and what the winter season means for recovery and restoration. They both were excited to see some precipitation, which usually means the end is near and they can begin shifting gears for fuel reduction. 

While the USFS and CAL FIRE each have their own missions and land responsibilities, they work in parallel to achieve the common goal of reducing wildfire risk. The end of fire season is marked by a change in weather and gives both agencies the time to assess what damage has been done from a fire and work to prevent future disasters, such as landslides or downed trees. It also opens up a short window to do prescribed burns which is highly efficient when it comes to managing large landscapes. While prescribed burns are not always supported in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), the land naturally wants to burn and it is advantageous for it to be controlled and planned out. When planning for a controlled burn, weather patterns and air models are studied to try to minimize the impact of smoke. This preparation and implementation allows these agencies to be proactive versus reactive. 

The land is going to burn, the question is in what manner is it going to burn.

-Eli Ilano, Forest Supervisor of Tahoe National Forest

With continued education and engagement, we can support these agencies in their mission and protect our forests, our community and our homes from a catastrophic wildfire. 

What else can you do to help these efforts? 

  • Remove dry brush and dead trees from your property to create defensible space
  • Have your home inspected to assess building materials and improvements to harden your home
  • Stay involved and educated on issues related to wildfire mitigation 
  • Voice your support for local forest resiliency treatments
  • Donate to the Forest Futures fund to support community-wide restoration efforts

View the Salon recording here.