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  • Writer's pictureJenna Granger

FOREST⇌FIRE Healthy Forests/ Defensible Space - Fall 2021

As the cool winds of fall began to blow and the snowflakes descended upon the Tahoe Truckee area, SWEP staffed worked to again adapt programming to new parameters. This year SWEP's FOREST⇌FIRE lesson included lessons on healthy forests, healthy vs. catastrophic wildfire, and defensible space. This program was offered as part of a larger initiative on FOREST⇌FIRE and is in partnership with Excellence in Education and the FOREST⇌FIRE exhibit at the Truckee Recreation Center.

Seventh-grade students at Alder Creek Middle School and North Tahoe Middle School participated in an outdoor field program that, although tended to be quite chilly, used games, props, and interactive questions to address topics related to forests and fire.

The lesson began with students becoming the forest and the trees in the game "Every Tree for Itself" which demonstrates healthy forests and unhealthy forests and how wildfire affects both of these forests. SWEP staff used real-world examples with the Caldor and Dixie fires and talked about the historical changes from the time of forest being managed by only the Washoe People to what happened to our local forest during the gold and silver rushes of California and Nevada and what is happening now with forest management. Students learned that we have been living in an overcrowded, unhealthy forest where wildfire has been suppressed for decades and that now, forest managers are adding back in forest thinning and controlled burns to help reduce the fuels in the forest and promote a healthier forest with more space and thriving trees.

Defensible Space was the focus of the next segment. Students identified local, natural fuel sources that exist around their homes (pine needles, pinecones, trees, and firewood) and learned how to mitigate danger from these fuels. Students learned that defensible space is not just an area that can reduce wildfire risk, but is also a space that allows firefighters to safely fight fire. Students practiced creating defensible space with house examples, took home worksheets to assess the defensible space of their own homes, and were given copies of the Nevada County Ready, Set, Go handbook.

Overall students went home with ideas on how to take action to reduce the risk of wildfire around their homes and knowledge about the forest in which they live.

To learn more about the entire FOREST⇌FIRE initiative, read this article.

Thank you, Excellence in Educations for your support with this important programming.

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