Bringing Fire to the Table

When Dale Swedberg took over the management of over 20,000 acres of fire-dependent wildlife habitat in north central Washington, he realized that his success as a land manager would rely on the reintroduction of fire to the ecosystem.

Yet he also knew that the reintroduction of fire would be an onerous process, one that would require careful planning, collaboration, and the support of regulatory agencies. In 2004, Dale discovered prescribed fire councils, which were becoming well-established in the southeastern United States at the time, and he decided that a prescribed fire council could be just what he needed to get prescribed fire on the ground in North Central Washington (NCW). Dale spearheaded the North Central Washington Prescribed Council; he hosted meetings, and brought representatives from councils in Florida to share their knowledge and experience with the NCW prescribed fire community.

Increasing interest in and need for prescribed fire across the state inspired Dale and others to propose the formation of a statewide council in 2011. The premise behind the statewide council is that although the challenges to prescribed burning may vary across different regions of the state, there is power in collaboration. The statewide council is able to address larger issues than regional councils, and is positioned to more fruitfully engage with national efforts, like those initiated by the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils.