After the massive 2021 Bootleg megafire in southern Oregon, scientists found that forests treated with prescribed burns—intentionally set to reduce flammable vegetation—had largely survived. To create a workforce to manage such burns, Oregon has introduced a new state certification program for burn managers, who will be able to plan and lead prescribed blazes on much of the state’s privately-owned land. A lower-level group will be able to set fire to burn piles. Mike Beasley, a retired Forest Service fire chief who became one of Oregon’s first certified burn managers last year, is teaching the freshman class of 17 at a Eugene community college. By opening up the work to people with experience outside of federal firefighting, Oregon is joining a growing movement led by indigenous practitioners to get more communities involved in controlled burns.

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