BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - If you live in Forest Ranch or Chico and saw plumes of smoke from the Chico State Ecological Reserve on Friday, you do not need to be alarmed. The smoke is from a prescribed burn that is keeping the area fire safe, but is also serving as a teaching tool for students.
The total project will treat 451 acres. Friday crews burned 20 acres in preparation for a larger fall burn.
Ecological Reserve Director Eli Goodsell is working in partnership with Terra Fuego and CAL FIRE. Goodsell said, "We've got students out here today who've got nationally recognized training to be able to be on prescribed fires."
Stephen Graydon is Executive Director of Terra Fuego. He said the slogan is, "Where education meets the land."
"This is the place, really, where we can illustrate the step-by-step operational process of implementing a fire -- as well as the whole time we're both identifying the objectives, both ecological and longterm, for why we're using fire," said Graydon.
Chico State master's student Mitch Bamford said he is applying what he learned to the work in the field.
"Right now I'm on firing, so right now I'm putting fire on the ground with the drip torch," Bamford explained to Action News Now reporter Christina Vitale.
This project excited Bamford for his future career. He said, "I really do like the cutting edge -- studying new techniques in restoration and ecology that we have out here at the university -- so I'd like to continue working in this current field that I'm in now and progressing through learning more and more -- as much as I can, about protecting California's habitats."
The funding for the prescribed burn project has come from a $304,000 dollar grant through CAL FIRE.