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WRSC Newsletter #13 04/21/2014
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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. 

Preparing for Fire Season

Colorado is preparing for another active fire season by exploring the feasibility of either purchasing or leasing firefighting aircraft. The "Special Report on Colorado's Firefighting Air Corps" by the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control assesses Colorado’s aerial firefighting capabilities and makes recommendations. The focus is on developing an aggressive initial attack strategy to detect small fires before they grow into large incidents that affect life, property, and resources. To do this, Colorado should develop early detection and remote sensing capabilities by securing aircraft equipped with modern fire-detecting sensors that should be operated to actively identify and locate small fires in high-risk areas. The aircraft it cites as most critical to this mission are small fixed-wing aircraft equipped with modern fire-detection sensors to detect fires, and multi-mission rotor wing aircraft to suppress fires while they are small. Read the full report here >

California is preparing for an above average fire season by increasing its firefighting force - several months earlier than usual. The new seasonal firefighters will be stationed in Northern California. In this video, CALFIRE announces the hiring and reminds residents to maintain 100 feet of defensible space around their homes. The Western Regional Action Plan supports increased capacity in Action 3.4 "Increase capacity where necessary in order to improve overall local response effectiveness and reduce the need for external (non-local) resources. See the video > 

National Cohesive Strategy Report Released

On Wednesday, April 9th Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and US Council on Environmental Quality Acting Chair Mike Boots released the Phase III National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Report. Secretary Vilsack said that “This effort, combined with the Administration’s newly proposed wildland fire management funding strategy, will allow USDA and our partners to more effectively restore forested landscapes, treat forests for the increasing effects of climate change, and help avert and minimize destructive future wildfires." 

"The National Cohesive Strategy is the result of an ongoing partnership that is providing us with a collaborative roadmap for how we better work together – across federal, tribal, state and local governments and with our NGO partners – to effectively manage landscapes,” said Secretary Jewell.  “Relying on a science-based approach to managing risks, this effort embodies the type of intergovernmental coordination that citizens and communities expect. The framework provided will help guide informed policy and decision-making while increasing our resilience and sustaining our resources.”

"As climate change spurs extended droughts and longer fire seasons, this collaborative wildfire blueprint will help us restore forests and rangelands to make communities less vulnerable to catastrophic fire," said Acting Chair Boots. 

The Cohesive Strategy is a collaborative effort in which many WRSC members participated over the past four years. Congratulations to all on a job well done!

The National Strategy report roll-out also includes a new Cohesive Strategy web page. See the report and more information on the Cohesive Strategy here >
Spreading the Cohesive Strategy message of collaboration and coordination to reduce wildfire risk in the West is a big job! The WRSC seeks volunteers for the Communications Working Group. If you can spare a few hours a month to help us to spread the word, please contact Cheryl Renner and join the group!

Are Homeowners Getting the Right Message?

In this interview with High Country News, Jack Cohen describes the kinds of messages forest and fire management agencies should be giving homeowners. Homeowner action is a key component of preventing structural losses, but too often homeowners are not involved before the fire. They need to know that fire is a natural process that is as inevitable as hurricanes or earthquakes, not a danger that can be eliminated by technology. Bringing messages such as these to communities at risk and helping communities prepare for wildfire is one of the goals of the Cohesive Strategy. The Western Regional Action Plan, Action 2.4. says "Use local, state, and West-wide coordinated campaigns to enhance the scope and effectiveness of efforts to inform residents and other stakeholders of their individual and collective responsibility to take action." Read the interview here >

FAC Network Adds 7 Western Pilot Communities

The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network works with communities and organizations that demonstrate the true meaning of the words "fire adapted". They assist those pilot communities in spreading the message of preparedness and mitigation to other communities throughout the country. The FAC Learning Network started with eight communities in 2013, and recently welcomed another ten communities/organizations into the network. Seven of those new organizations are in the West. They are: Project Wildfire, Deschutes County, OR; Greater Flagstaff Forest Partnership, Flagstaff, AZ; California Fire Safe Council, Southern CA; Boise Fire Department, Ada County, ID; FireWise Council of Southwest Colorado, LaPlata, Montezuma and Archuleta Counties, CO; and Summit County Wildfire Council, Summit County, CO. See the new FAC Network Blog for more fire adapted communities news >

North Lake Tahoe posts on the FAC Network Blog how they convened 80 people for a community meeting on their CWPP, with tips on how to increase participation. See their latest here >

Community Liaisons Improve Communications During the Fire

The 2013 Salmon Complex Fire became a testing ground for a communications strategy instituted by California Fire Safe Councils, called the Community Liaisons Program (CLP). Designated community people became liaisons between communities and the Incident Command, with information flowing through these channels. A primary liaison was designated to talk with USFS personnel, the Incident Command and Incident Management Team (IMT). Secondary contacts carried messages to and from the primary liaison and acted as a technical support team for the primary liaison and the IMT. The liaisons acted as a team, employing a broad base of skills. Telephone lines, internet, social media, and CB radio were all employed to carry news to communities. The primary contact met with the IMT early and often, attending briefings and meetings for regular updates. The program was successful because it facilitated coordination between the IMT and the communities, and prevented the spread of misinformation. For a full description of the CLP program read the article here >

Why Sierra Fuel Treatments Make Economic Sense

This newly released study by The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and the US Forest Service shows that investments in fuel treatments can significantly reduce suppression and clean-up costs. The study takes an unusual approach to a cost-benefit analysis of fuel treatments by assessing avoided costs in addition to benefits. The scientists find that fuel treatments can significantly reduce the size and intensity of wildfires, and the economic benefits exceed the costs by as much as three times, or more. The study is specific to the upper Mokelumne Watershed in California, but it makes the economic case for significantly increasing investment in fuel treatments in western forests. Read the report here >

Upcoming Learning and Networking Opportunities

April 15-17 Klamath Fire Ecology Symposium - Orleans, CA
For more info contact Will Harling.

April 30 Webinar 2:00-4:00 PM EDT Beginning Farmer and Rancher Competitive Grants Program Application Process.

May 3 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day- National.
Funding available for projects. See the website for details.

May 6 Webinar 2:00-4:00 PM EDT Beginning Farmer and Rancher Competitive Grants Program Application Process webinar.

May 7 3:00 PM EDT Predicting Local Smoke Dispersion During Low-Intensity Wildland Fires in Forested Environments webinar.

May 15 10:00 AM EDT Remote Fire Monitoring webinar.

May 15 Close of crowdsourcing comment period for the Quadrennial Fire Review

May 19-23 Large Wildland Fires: Social, Political and Ecological Effects Conference; The University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  

Katie Lighthall
Coordinator, Western Region
National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy
Ann Walker
Co-Chair Western Region
Western Governors' Association
Tony Harwood
Co-chair Western Region
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
Kent Connaughton
Co-Chair Western Region
US Forest Service

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