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Insights and suggestions for certified prescribed burn manager programs

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Prescribed burning is an effective method to reduce hazardous fuels and restore ecological conditions across a variety of ecosystems. Twenty-one states have laws or policies that direct state agencies to oversee formal training programs to certify individuals in safe burning techniques. Fifteen of these states have active certified prescribed burn manager programs (CPBM). Michigan and Oregon did not implement certification programs due to lack of funding, and California, Minnesota, Washington, and West Virginia are currently developing CPBM programs. The Washington State Legislature charged the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop a certified prescribed burn manager program under Washington House Bill 2733 of 2018. The Washington DNR, Washington Resource Conservation & Development Council, and Washington Dry Forest Fire Learning Network contracted the Forest Stewards Guild to compile information about existing CPBM programs and provide guidance for Washington’s CPBM program. Findings and recommendations in this report are broadly applicable to other states considering new CPBM programs or revising existing programs. Key aspects of CPBM programs are objectives, benefits of certification, target audience, prerequisites, required coursework, required burning experiences, length of certification, decertification standards, and program administration. The mechanics of existing CPBM programs vary widely among states. For example, Pennsylvania and Colorado have rigorous certification requirements congruent with National Wildfire Coordinating Group standards. Certification programs in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia have fewer requirements and are more accessible to landowners with little to no previous fire experience.Based on our analysis and interviews with CPBM program managers, recommendations for certification programs are to:•Strike a balance between achievable and rigorous standards.•Secure adequate funding and personnel for program development and administration.•Convene a steering team to develop and review certification requirements.•Engage air quality regulators throughout the process.•Clearly outline benefits of certification to participants.•Develop multiple tracks and tiers to certification based on prior experience and burn complexity.•Conduct a beta-test of course curriculum.•Include a field component in the CPBM course, with or without a live burn demonstration.•Facilitate additional field experiences for CPBM trainees.•Review and provide feedback on burn plans to ensure quality.•Develop a process for decertification and enforcement.•Require recertification and continued training.•Address inclusivity throughout program design.•Invest in an electronic system to track certified burners.•Provide clear documentation about the CPBM program online.

M.S. Matonis

Matonis MS. Insights and suggestions for certified prescribed burn manager programs .; 2020 p. 46 p.

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