November 3, 2023 – Continuing its long tradition of helping private landowners manage their land with education and technical support, the Nevada County Resource Conservation District is launching a multi-year education program for private landowners to gain the knowledge and skills to use prescribed fire as a tool to reduce wildfire hazard and promote healthy forests and ecosystems.

RX Fire NCRCD. Photo by Robert Salladay

The program is funded through a Community Wildfire Defense Grant from the USDA Forest Service and all residents of Nevada County are invited to join any of the many courses and workshops. Topics include: basics of prescribed burning, benefits, planning, preparing, tools and safety, burning in three steps (before, during and after), smoke management, permitting, evaluating the effects, and fire ecology.

Prescribed fire is widely recognized as a tool to reduce wildfire risk and restore forests and other native vegetation. It “cleans up” litter and debris on the forest floor that have accumulated over more than a century and contributed to intense wildfires. When forest floor litter is burned, it releases nutrients to the soil and allows more rain to reach the soil. It reduces the heavy smoke from future wildfires. Many native plants that have been suppressed by deep forest litter can better flourish. Nationally and across California, the importance of prescribed fire as a key tool in reducing wildfire risk and restoring forests have led to support for prescribed burning, along with other fuel reduction tools.

In November, Nevada County RCD is hosting three prescribed burn events:

  • 11/4 Preparing to Burn Workshop, You Bet Firewise Community,  9am – 1pm
  • 11/11 Preparing to Burn Workshop, San Juan Ridge, 9am – 1pm
  • 11/12 Post Prescribed Burn Tour, Floriston Firewise Community, 9am – 1pm

There is no cost to attend these events, but advance registration is required. Register at

Previously, the RCD hosted a Prescribed Fire Plan workshop in the spring and a field trip to the Sagehen prescribed burn in the Truckee area last month.

The Prescribed Fire education program will be led by Joaquin Pastrana, Nevada County RCD program manager, and Jo Ann Fites-Kaufman, board member and long-time community volunteer. Pastrana brings a background in prescribed burning and hands-on education. Most recently, he worked for Fire Forward in Sonoma County, where they conduct numerous prescribed burns in various vegetation and fuel types. Fites-Kaufman is a retired U.S. Forest Service fire scientist with more than 30 years of experience with prescribed and wildland fires. Throughout her career, she has conducted thirty Firewise Community Fire Hazard and Risk Assessments. Fites-Kaufman is a California certified burn boss and maintains federal wildland fire qualifications.

For more information on upcoming Nevada County RCD events and useful prescribed fire information, visit our website at