The WRSC delivers articles and stories here each month that demonstrate the collaborative efforts of agencies, organizations and communities supporting and promoting the three goals of the Cohesive Strategy: Restoring Resilient Landscapes, Creating Fire Adapted Communities and Responding to Wildfire.
The newsletter is our primary communication tool with our partners and members of the public. Feel free to contact us with ideas for articles or comments.
Rio Grande Water Fund Protects Water and Forests
The Rio Grande Water Fund is a public/private partnership to protect New Mexico's vital watersheds. Frequent, high-severity wildfires and post-fire flooding threaten the quality of the water for more than half of New Mexico's population. The Rio Grande Water Fund will generate sustainable funding for a 10-30 year program of large-scale forest and watershed restoration treatments that includes thinning overgrown forests, restoring streams, and rehabilitating areas that flood after wildfires. The Water Fund is a project of The Nature Conservancy in coordination with multiple federal and state agency partners, and with the support of local businesses. The Western Regional Action Plan supports large-scale forest restoration projects under action 1.1.a. Task 3. "Promote and coordinate planning and implementation activities across jurisdictional and ownership boundaries. Encourage federal, state, tribal and local partners to maximize collaboration and use existing tools that will expedite the creation and maintenance of landscapes, especially in areas of national and/or global significance." Read more here >
McGinnis Cabin Stewardship Project a Success
The McGinnis Cabin Stewardship Project began in 2009 as a joint project of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Lolo National Forest. The goal of the project was to reduce tree density and debris to reduce severe wildland fire behavior. The project area covers 998 acres, and includes thinning, road maintenance, construction, and road decommissioning. Other benefits of the project were the production of timber and employment for tribal members. The project will be complete in December 2014. The Western Regional Action Plan supports stewardship contracting and projects which use local labor forces in Action 1.1.c., and the establishment of Tribal collaborative landscape management in O.5.a. Task 4. "Establish pilot projects throughout the Western region to develop unique collaborative agreements, MOA and MOUs, charters, and/or local operating plans between agencies, Tribes, States and other partners." Read more here >
Colorado Uses Woody Biomass to Generate Electricity
Biomass plants are beginning to dot the landscape in Colorado. A new plant in Gypsum, 140 miles west of Denver, began operations in December. In Colorado Springs, the city mixes biomass with coal to produce power, and in Pagosa Springs, a new biomass plant may begin operating next year. Biomass displaces burning fossil fuels, thus reducing emissions of carbon dioxide. Burning dead timber and thinnings from nearby forests reduces the fuel load and the risk of wildfire to nearby communities. The Western Regional Action Plan supports the use of woody biomass in Action 1.1.c. Task 1. "Increase the variety and use of tools such as contracting authorities, grants, agreements, local labor force, and opportunities for biomass utilization in implementing treatments." Read more here >
For more information on opportunities for biomass utilization Marcus Kauffman, Biomass Resource Specialist for the Oregon Department of Forestry, discusses the opportunities for using woody biomass here >
Put Your Community on the Map for May 3
NFPA is coordinating the first annual Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 3, 2014. Communities all over the nation are beginning preparations for National Wildfire Preparedness Day. State Farm Insurance is offering 20 awards of $500.00 to communities for their Preparedness Day projects. Participation is open to anyone -- Firewise communities, subdivisions, groups of neighbors, civic associations, individuals, etc. NFPA suggests that communities get "on the map" by registering their projects here >
Payson, AZ Not Ready for WUI Code
A proposal to adopt to the International Wildland Urban Interface (IWUIC) Building Code for new construction met with resistance from the Payson Town Council recently. WUI development and building codes have been gaining acceptance in the West, especially in areas of new construction. But community resistance can be difficult to overcome, and the Payson objections are a case in point. Councilors were concerned about "draconian measures" and discouraging growth, but they expressed interest in more education about protecting homes and voluntary standards. Several Arizona communities have already adopted the IWUIC code with local amendments, including: Prescott, Flagstaff, Sedona, and the Groom Creek Fire District in Yavapai County.
California credits its success in reducing home losses to wildfire to the adoption of ordinances. They require that all new construction in high hazard zones must have a Fire Protection Plan (FPP) that addresses both construction and vegetation. As a result, they are finding that it is the houses built before ordinances were adopted that are being lost to wildfire.
The Western Regional Action Plan supports ordinances and education about standards in Action 2.2. Task 5. "Develop and disseminate best practices and sample WUI fire, building, subdivision and development codes, inform county commissioners, planning and fire departments, and code enforcement divisions on the application and enforcement of applicable regulations. Communicate the firesafe building message to builders and developers." Read about the Payson experience here >