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Documentary ‘Not If But When: Wildfire Solutions’ screening at film festival

by Pamela Biery, YubaNet (Grass Valley, Calif.) |

‘Not If But When: Wildfire Solutions’ is a 39-minute documentary that focuses on solutions to our current wildfire predicament. It is scheduled for a screening at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Jan. 16-20, in Grass Valley and Nevada City, Calif.

The film discusses local projects including a rurally based biomass plant, the historical use of controlled burns and forest management development techniques in the University of California Sagehen Creek Field Station. The outcomes for the northern Mother Lode region are potentially very significant with fire reduction programs reaching from Truckee, Calif., to Yuba County, Calif., and the forest surrounding Bullard’s Bar. This is information that is valuable from the point of view of community awareness, but also in terms of impacts to ongoing forestry management and future wildfire control.

As a resident of the Yuba County foothills, filmmaker Radu Sava is no stranger to living in constant threat of forest fire. In his work on the Nevada County Arts Council film, “Belonging” Radu interviewed Jeff Brown at the Sagehen Creek Field Station.

“This really changed my attitude. Jeff introduced the concept that more fire is needed and that fire is not all bad, and also how essential it is to manage small diameter trees in the forest,” Radu observed.

Attending the 2019 Wild & Scenic Film Festival was another aspect of his inspiration. The community panel discussions included a talk with Kelly Martin, Chief Fire & Aviation Officer at Yosemite National Park regarding the 2019 film “Wilder than Wild.” This provided more education and background with the critical notion that we need to stop fighting fire with a male, aggressive attitude, but rather learn to work with fire in partnership, as Native Americans historically did.

South Yuba River Citizens League’s Bear Yuba Watershed Council meeting was instrumental in introducing Radu and co-director Rebekah Hood-Sava to the Camptonville Community Partnership and Cathy LeBlanc, as well as other important initiatives.

Together, the partners are working on an unprecedented scale to collaboratively plan, analyze, finance, and implement forest restoration across 275,000 acres of the watershed. This is a working example of how collaboration can create, manage and implement critical forestry solutions on a large scale.

This important film is an example of drawing on and connecting many local resources, such as the Yuba Watershed & Fire Safe Council, Cal Fire, Bear Yuba Land Trust and SYRCL. Each county has a Fire Safe Council and Nevada County also offers fire preparedness information. Nine key agencies are interviewed in this proactive film, giving a unique perspective and short-cutting research for viewers.