SACRAMENTO September 18, 2019 –  The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced a historic partnership to improve forest management and reduce the risk of high-severity wildfires through the expanded use of prescribed fire. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) guiding this partnership includes prescribed fire training with experts and trainees from both organizations, forest management projects including thinning and prescribed fire in cooperation with a diversity of partners, and joint communications to improve the public’s understanding of prescribed fire.

This partnership, in recognition of a worsening wildfire crisis and the need to involve new stakeholders, is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a state firefighting agency and an environmental nonprofit organization in California.

“Many of California’s forests are overgrown with brush and small trees and urgently need better forest management at greater pace and scale, including prescribed fire. We are set to increase efforts exponentially, especially through expanding the trained workforce,” said Mike Sweeney, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter. “Together, we will make Sierra Nevada forests safer and healthier.”

“Forest Management including the use of prescribed fire is the way we will ensure Forest Resiliency and the health of our forests for future generations,” stated Chief Thom Porter, Director of CAL FIRE. “This partnership will help the State to increase pace and scale of Fuels Management to attain the goal of treating 500 thousand acres each year.”

High-severity wildfire is a significant threat to air quality, water quality, carbon storage, neighboring communities, and wildlife. TNC has been performing controlled burns across the U.S. for 56 years and has recently expanded operations around the world. Since 2010, TNC has run Training Exchanges (TREX) in California to expand and share expertise to use controlled burning to reduce wildfire risk and promote healthier, more resilient forests.

A recent scientific paper from the Nature Conservancy, Wildfires and Forest Resilience: the case for ecological forestry in the Sierra Nevada, cites over 130 scientific studies to make the scientific case for forest management including controlled burns as the best solution to combat megafires in California’s fire-adapted conifer forests.

About CAL FIRE: The men and women of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) are dedicated to the fire protection and stewardship of over 31 million acres of California’s privately-owned wildlands. In addition, the Department provides varied emergency services in 36 of the State’s 58 counties via contracts with local governments. Beyond its wildland fire fighting role, CAL FIRE is an “all-risk” department. The Department is always ready to respond – medical aids; hazardous material spills; swift-water rescues; search and rescue missions; civil disturbances; train wrecks; floods, earthquakes and more. To learn more, visit or follow @CAL_FIRE on Twitter.

About the Nature Conservancy: The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters, and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.