January 14, 2016


Newsletter #39


View this email in your browser

Sign up for this eNews!



Resilient Landscapes
Fire Adapted Communities
Safe and Effective Wildfire Response
In this issue:


It's winter and while there are still a few large fires popping up across the dry West, most of us are enjoying (well, maybe not enjoying) the colder weather.  

Although the chilly season brings a break in wildfires, we know there is still much work occurring at the regional and local levels that demonstrates Cohesive Strategy behaviors.  
  • Are you collaborating with your stakeholders and achieving success?
  • Are your communities more accepting of prescribed fire? 
  • Did your agencies take a little more risk during the 2015 fire season by letting low intensity fires burn where they did not endanger communities but helped restore the landscape?  
We'd like to hear from you about how you, your communities, your incident management teams and your agencies are working together to reduce risk and make progress towards resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities and a safer, more effective fire response.  Please click here and tell me your story so I can share it with our region and others looking for models and examples to emulate!


Kate Lighthall, Coordinator
Western Region



2015 National Prescribed Fire Use Report Out

In the 2015 National Prescribed Fire Use Survey Report details the current situation surrounding prescribed fire use in all 50 states.  Each state completed their second national survey and answered questions about how prescribed fire is used, managed and reported.  The Cohesive Strategy cites prescribed fire as a valuable tool in restoring forested ecosystems and creating more resilient landscapes. Weather, capacity and air quality/smoke management are the top challenges to using prescribed fire. Despite the challenges, more states are creating prescribed fire councils to help train crews, educate communities and facilitate more prescribed fires. In the West, although only 27% of the total acres burned were due to prescribed fire, this is an increase and we are trending up in the use and management of prescribed fire according to the report.  Read more here
Aggie Creek Fire, Alaska, July 2015. Photo: Philip Spor

 USDA Ends Fire Borrowing

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the agency would halt the practice of fire-borrowing, or re-appropriating Forest Service funds mid-year to wildfire suppression. In mid-December, Vilsack wrote to several members of Congress to announce that the agency will no longer authorize fire transfers. “If the amount Congress appropriated in FY 2016 is not sufficient to cover fire suppression costs,” the letter states, “Congress will need to appropriate additional funding on an emergency basis.”  Read more here.
Dr. Elwood Miller welcomed participants to this year's conference. Photo: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Successful Statewide FAC Conference

In November, over 100 fire service professionals and residents met for The Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities' second statewide conference. The conference agenda was built around the necessity for effective, sustainable partnerships to lower a community's vulnerability to the devastation caused by wildfire.  
Outstanding presentations provided local examples to illustrate the need for proactively addressing the wildfire threat through the creation of mutually beneficial, long lasting and successful partnerships. Participants also learned what the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy is and the plan for its implementation in Nevada. Read more here.


Why Prescibed Fire?
TREX Takes Advantage of the Opportunity

The Nature Conservancy produced this video to showcase how the Fire Learning Network is bringing partners together to learn from each other and restore healthy forests at the same time.  

"Prescribed, ground-hugging fires help keep our forests healthy. They create more diversity and reduce crowded, shrubby brush that fuels wildfires. Through the Fire Learning Network, a joint project of The Nature Conservancy, the USDA Forest Service and several agencies of the U.S. Department of the Interior, conservation staff from across the United States gather to learn from each other and share expertise in prescribed fire management. With more trained fire professionals, we can put more fire on the ground and keep our forests healthy and communities safe."  Click here to see the video.


After 47 Years, Tom Harbour Looks Back...and Ahead

Tom Harbour, Director of Fire and Aviation with the US Forest Service, and one of the strongest supporters of the Cohesive Strategy, pauses to look back over his extremely successful 47-year career in three interviews with Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today.  Please click here to see all three interviews.   


Photo: NIFC 

2015 Fire Season Sets Records
"A New Reality"

The 2015 fire season has broken a record for national acres burned, tallying 10,125,149 acres. The previous record was in 2006 at 9,873,745 acres. 
In 2015, the three largest fires were all in Alaska. Five of the top 10 were in the Pacific Northwest while the other two were in California. Among the largest blazes, some will go down in state record books. The two California fires on the list — the Valley and Butte Fires — both rank among the top 10 most destructive fires in state history. The Okanogan Fire in Washington was the state’s largest on record. There were two common factors behind all these fires: they occurred in places that had a dry winter and warm temperatures during wildfire season. Read more here
 Community liaison coordinating with community members during Butler Fire, 2013. Photo: Al Storey 

A Trusted Translator:
The Role of Community Liaisons 


The Cohesive Strategy widely promotes an integrated approach to achieving its goals. Folks in Northern California are making meaningful progress towards a more effective fire response and becoming more fire adapted using a Community Liaison Program. 

One of the most important aspects to creating positive outcomes during wildfire events is making sure that communities, agencies and fire management teams have a clear understanding of what to expect, and that they have a means of honest communication throughout the event.  

The Salmon River Community Liaison Program was developed in northern California to 
facilitate timely and transparent communication and information exchange between the incoming IMT’s, the local Forest Service staff, and the communities affected by the fires and firefighting activities during and after a wildfire. Liaisons are often trusted community members with ample fire, natural resource and/or community knowledge who can be effective at getting real-time information out to local and interested audiences, ensure that accurate information is available for teams, and ease tensions as they arise in this stressful environment. When embraced and skillfully implemented, Community Liaison Programs can have huge benefits to communities, governing agencies like the USFS, BLM, and CalFire, and Incident Management Teams.

Read more here to see how the Salmon River Community Liaison Program was tested during two large fires.  


In support of Creating Fire Adapted Communities, we will
be featuring highlights from the FAC Net blog in each newsletter.   

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

February 23-25, 2016 - Sagebrush Ecosystem Conservation: All Lands, All Hands in Salt Lake City, UT.  This conference will share the latest information on the conservation, restoration and maintenance of resilient sagebrush ecosystems.

March 8-10, 2016 - IAFC's Wildland Urban Interface Conference in Reno, NV.  

March 31 - April 2, 2016 - New Mexico Wildland Urban Interface Summit in Silver City, NM. "Re-energize Community Fire Response."

April 11-16, 2016 - 5th International Fire Behavior & Fuels Conference. "Wicked Problems, New Solutions: Our Fire, Our Problem" will be held concurrently in Portland, OR and Melbourne, Australia.  

April 26-28, 2016 - Collaborative Restoration Workshop: Working Toward Resilient Landscapes and Communities in Denver, CO. The above link takes you to a pre-conference survey to get on the list to receive information about the workshop.  

July 17-20, 2016 - North American Prairie Conference at the University of Illinois. "From Cemetery Prairies to National Tall Grass Prairies."

November 14-17, 2016 -  International Smoke Symposium in Long Beach, CA. The IAWF and the NWCG SmoC (smoke committee) will be hosting this in-person / virtual symposium. 
Articles and information from around the West that demonstrate collaborative efforts and meaningful progress towards Resilient Landscapes, Fire Adapted Communities and Safe & Effective Wildfire Response.

Contact:  Kate Lighthall, WRSC Coordinator:

Copyright © 2015 Western Regional Strategy Committee.  All rights reserved.   

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences