Supporting our firefighters and the rainforest through meaningful work
The Wildland Cooperative is a conservation, education and mental health initiative developed by Wildland firefighters and Eco Era. Our mission is to create a healthy, reciprocal relationship between the earth and people.
Wildland firefighters work tirelessly for 6 months of the year to protect our forests, homes and communities. A typical work period is 14 days fighting fire to 2 days of rest. This essential work brings meaningful purpose to their lives while it is deeply supportive of our safety. When wild fire season ends there is a 6 month period during which time many firefighters are idle. Without meaningful work, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug use and suicide are common among firefighters during their off season. In particular, smokejumpers (specially trained Wildland firefighters who insert into wild fires via parachute) have the highest suicide rate of any other group in the United States. The polar lifestyle extremities of a typical firefighter causes serious chemical imbalances in the brain and emotional psyche. It is imperative for firefighters to receive support during the off season for their well-being and for our safety when wild fire season begins again.
The Wildland Cooperative is a symbiotic relationship between Eco Era and Wildland firefighters intended to mutually support the needs of our respective communities. The program creates opportunity for firefighters to pursue meaningful work in forestry, personal development and leadership that directly supports our pressing need for experienced forest technicians to aid our rainforest conservation organization. Our intention is to provide a nurturing container where meditation practice, counseling, community, rest, and harmonious time spent with nature support their decompression and grounding after months of elevated stress and strain. In addition firefighters are doing daily work in trail maintenance, essential forest pruning, making lumber from fallen trees, and building structures that support our anti-poaching and habitat conservation goals.
Because Wildland firefighters possess first-rate forestry skills, we are granted an opportunity to create program branches that reach beyond the scope of just rainforest conservation. These program offshoots give the Wildland Cooperative a chance to be in service to other communities in need of support.