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Fire Suppression Through Prescribed Fire Training School

  • Cheyenne and Arapaho Community Center 300 Black Kettle Drive Concho, OK 73022 (map)
  • Using prescribed fire and other fuel load suppression techniques to help reduce the risk of wildfire

  • Live demonstration of burning a "black line" fire break around Concho using prescribed fire--essentially fighting fire with fire (Weather permitting)

  • Lunch provided

RSVP by December 21 to Clay Pope at 405-699-2087 or claygpope@gmail.com

Record-breaking wildfires have plagued the Southern Plains for the past three years. During this time period, unusually wet summers combined with unseasonably mild winters have resulted in increased vegetative growth, creating the conditions for devastating wildfires. In an effort to help farmers, ranchers and rural communities deal with these conditions, The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, Redlands Community College, Oklahoma State University, the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub, the Noble Research Institute, The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Prescribed Fire Council, The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service have joined forces to host a wildfire fuel suppression training school on Jan. 5 from 8:30 am to 4 pm at the Cheyenne and Arapaho Community Center in Concho, Oklahoma.

This event, according to John Weir, associate extension prescribed fire specialist at Oklahoma State University, is designed to help landowners, local fire departments and community leaders consider prescribed fire as a tool to help reduce wildfire danger.

“For three years in a row we have seen an increase in the severity of our fire season,” Weir said. “We need to be thinking about strategies now to help reduce this fuel load and protect our farmsteads and rural communities from the danger of wildfire. There are many ways to do this, but one of the most effective strategies is to use prescribed fire on the land.”

According to Weir, by implementing prescribed fire as a tool to control fuel load, individuals and communities can reduce the danger of out-of-control wildfires later on. By doing targeted “black line” burns around communities and structures when conditions permit, burn associations and fire departments can work together to provide additional protection to homes and businesses. As part of the training school, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes will be burning “black lines” around the town of Concho itself in partnership with local prescribed burn associations.

According to Nathan Hart, executive director of the Department of Business for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, this effort will both protect the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal headquarters at Concho and provide an excellent demonstration of the protection prescribed fire can help provide.

“Burning a fire break around a town is a great strategy to help protect those communities from wildfire later on,” Hart said. “Our hope is that by conducting this training school at Concho, we will spur additional partnerships between burn associations and local volunteer fire departments in using prescribed fire as a tool to fight wildfire.”

Dr. David Brown, director of the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub, noted how this event is part Hub’s mission to help agriculture producers and rural communities deal with extreme weather events.

“Recent wildfires have impacted a multitude of production systems in our Southern Plains region. This training school is an example of putting tools and strategies in the hands of land managers to help deal with the negative impacts of extreme weather and climate events.”

The training school will start at 8:30am on January 5th at the Cheyenne and Arapaho Community Center located at 300 Black Kettle Drive in Concho, Oklahoma (7 miles north of El Reno on Highway 81) and will be free to the public with a meal provided by Oklahoma AgCredit. Those wishing to attend are requested to RSVP by December 21 in order to determine the headcount for the meal. For more information or to RSVP for the meeting, contact Clay Pope at 405-699-2087 or claygpope@gmail.com.