Building Burn Capacity

The Colorado chapter launches a new fire academy.

The Nature Conservancy’s forest and fire program has launched a new effort to build fire and fuels management capacity in Colorado. Local fire training classes will be based out of the Southern Rockies Fire Training Center in Loveland. In addition, the Conservancy will also support partner training initiatives. The academy is focused on addressing local partner training needs to build capacity for using prescribed fire in high-priority landscapes throughout the state. The program will also bolster volunteer firefighters qualifications to be able to respond to wildfires throughout the state.

The program held several classes this spring including basic wildfire training, specialized qualifications as well as a training with Team Rubicon.

Team Rubicon is a program which unites the skills and experiences of veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Through this program the Bureau of Land Management conducts an annual wildland fire academy.  The Nature Conservancy joined this training and participated in leading the advanced session, which focused on air operations, aircraft use, engine use and pump operations. 

“This was a great program for us to be involved in,” said Gabe Donaldson. “It is amazing to give back to the community and I hope to continue this partnership in the future.”

During the training, Donaldson was able to speak to participants about the work of the Conservancy and generated the interest of over 37 potential volunteers to help with forest restoration and prescribed fire projects in the future.

In addition to the work with Team Rubicon, the Conservancy led their first basic fire academy training, which graduated 12 participants, representing six different agencies along the Front Range. Several Conservancy staff members also completed the class and field day at one of The Nature Conservancy’s project sites on the Northern Front Range of Colorado.

The Conservancy’s fire academy also offers specialized classes including chain saw training specific to a wildland fire environment and basic tree felling operations. This will help build qualifications to assist in forest restoration activities. Refresher courses and pack tests will also be available to help people remain current on qualifications.

“Growing the amount of trained wildland fire fighters will allow for more qualified participants in forest restoration projects throughout the state,” added Donaldson. 

The Conservancy’s fire academy offers the trainings free of charge and hopes that in return participants will volunteer on future prescribed burn projects to gain more experience in the field.


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