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On a warm October afternoon in 2021, roughly 40 personnel from Oregon forest agencies, area tribes, and conservation groups, including the Long Tom Watershed Council, gathered on the Andrew Reasoner Wildlife Preserve outside Eugene. Among them were a dozen Native American firefighter trainees who had spent the week learning the essentials of wildfire suppression. That the culmination of their training would be the deliberate burning of an eight-acre parcel of land might strike some as contrary, even outrageous. As a former National Park Ranger who served as a firefighter in the early 90s, this certainly flew in the face of the training I’d received.

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