Wildland fire workshop coming to Dillingham

Feb 2, 2016

Teachers and community members can learn about wildland fire ecology and management in an upcoming weekend course, 'Fire in a Changing Climate for Educators.'

A 14,000-acre fire south of Kalskag was one of hundreds that burned around the state during the summer 2015.
Credit Division of Forestry

Wildfires blazed across millions of acres last summer during one of Alaska’s worst fire seasons on record. How and why those fires burn will be a subject for hands-on learning at an upcoming workshop called ‘Fire in a Changing Climate for Educators.

"We’re actually burning things," says Lilly Goodman-Allwright, who teaches the course with the Alaska Natural Resources and Outdoor Education Association. "We do something called tinker trees – and this is small, we do it on top of cookie sheets – but we build these different types of trees to show how different types of tree architecture is more likely to burn. So for example, black spruce has low branches that droop to the ground and lots of ladder fuels, so we’ll build a "black spruce" and we'll light it on fire."

Goodman-Allwright says the class is meant to equip educators with activities to use with their students, but anyone is welcome.

Participants will also explore how climate change and fire are connected, and do a walk-through of a home to assess how fire-wise it is.

"So we'll be looking at their roofing, their distance to fuels around their house, their trees and grass, and we’ll give them a score -- that’s never furnished to insurance companies!" says Goodman-Allwright. "But it’s very educational, and people usually really appreciate and enjoy getting to see how defendable their house is."

The class costs a small materials fee for participants, and teachers can get one professional development credit through the University of Alaska Anchorage. 

The workshop will be held Friday, Feb. 19, 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 20, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Those interested are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible by contacting AlaskaInsights@mtaonline.net.