March 2, 2016

Newsletter #40


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Resilient Landscapes
Fire Adapted Communities
Safe and Effective Wildfire Response

A publication by the Western Region to highlight progress within
the context of the Cohesive Strategy and demonstrations 
of success across the West. 

In this issue:

2015 Western Region Stakeholder Implementation Report is Out!

The Western Regional Strategy Committee is the facilitator of Cohesive Strategy implementation in the West.  Please take a moment to thumb through the 2015 Western Region Stakeholder Implementation Report for a snap shot of what a wide variety of stakeholders and partners are achieving in the context of Cohesive Strategy.  
Las Conchas Fire 2011. Photo: Kari Greer, US Forest Service

It's Not About Restoration Anymore,
It's About Resilience

The city of Santa Fe, New Mexico is taking the Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy seriously.  Achievements are already underway with the designation of the Greater Santa Fe Area Fire Shed.

The designation marks an area critical to the health and safety of city residents and a priority for efforts to reduce the ecological threats of catastrophic fire.  It also loops the fire shed into the 25-year Sustainable Santa Fe Plan and directs staff to find funding to support projects.  The key consequence of the resolution is that the city should see increased voice in federal, state and private dollars spent and decisions made to manage the forests that directly affect the watershed, resident safety and recreation. 

"...we're not talking about restoration anymore.  We're talking about resilience. So while we're going to be restoring these forests to conditions that more closely resemble the conditions they had in the past, we know the climate future is uncertain, and insects, prolonged drought and wildfire are in our future, so we want to make these forests resilient to those disturbances," said Eytan Krasilovsky with the Forest Guild.  
Read more here
Prescribed fire on the Trinity National Forest in Northern California. Photo: Mid Klamath Watershed Council

More Prescribed Fire in California

Environmental groups, federal and state agencies have formed a partnership to increase the use of prescribed fires to improve the health of California's forests and watersheds and minimize the effects of increasingly devastating wildfires.

The agreement signed by the Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club and others, will enable the sharing of resources and expertise among the signatories.  Read more here


Ashland Forest Resiliency Project Raises
$5.64 Million for Treatment on Private Lands

Over the last few years the AFR Project team has developed additional partnerships with private landowners, and state and federal agencies to expand the project to include adjacent private lands under a Conservation Implementation Strategy.

This expanded strategy, an all-lands approach, includes adjacent private land owners in the strategy to better achieve the objectives of protecting important fish and wildlife habitat and restoring forest resilience in the face of climate change and increased fire threat. These growing partnerships have resulted in an additional $4.54 million dollars secured for the project to treat private lands. An additional $1.1 million was also recently earmarked by the Pacific Northwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service for reducing wildfire hazard on federal lands within the AFR footprint.  Read more here
Cattle graze on managed rangeland near Tucson, AZ.  Photo: Tim McCabe, NRCS.

Targeted Grazing Reduces Wildland Fire Risk

A team of rangeland scientists from the University of Arizona and New Mexico State University studied the outcomes of herding livestock to reduce rangeland fire fuels. 
The two-year study aimed at getting cattle to specific parts of the rangeland where grasses and shrubs were providing potentially high levels of fire fuel with the idea that reducing the fuel would lower the risk of wildfire and lessen the impact of fire when it occurred.  

The findings showed grazing as a valuable tool to reduce rangeland fire characteristics, such as rate of fire spread and flame length.  Read more here

Engaging Communities
with a Coloring Contest

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Wildland Fire Division is engaging the community in advance of Wildfire Preparedness Month in May with a coloring contest.  For those of you looking for innovative and fun ways to help build more fire adapted communities...check this out!
Firefighters  on the Valley Fire, September 2015 near Middletown, California.  Photo: Stephen Lam Getty Images.

Secretary Vilsack Not Mincing Words

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack continues to repeat his promise that he will not borrow from other programs to pay for fire suppression this summer.  President Obama's proposed budget called on legislators to allow the US Forest Service to use disaster funds from FEMA to pay its firefighting tab.  But under that proposal, the relief from FEMA would begin in the fiscal year that begins October 1st - well beyond when the agency will need funding for this season's fires.  Read more here


USDA Initiative Improves Resiliency, Reduces Wildfire Threats through Local Partnerships

In late February, the USDA announced a $40 million+ investment for resiliency and restoration of forests near communities to reduce wildfire impacts, protect water supplies, improve wildlife habitat and support rural economies. This is the third year of the Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership between the US Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to improve the health and resiliency of forest ecosystems where public and private lands meet. 

Eleven new Joint Chiefs projects received funding commitments totaling $7 million for 2016 and an additional investment totaling nearly $33 million for 28 projects that were launched in 2015 and 2014. 

These projects are selected based in part on the collaborative efforts and commitments of local partners who plan to invest $11 million in financial, technical and in-kind assistance. Read more here.  

Resilience is Going to Happen,
One Way or Another

In the West more conversation is surfacing around "resilience" and the notion that large, landscape-level resilience is only going to occur as a result of unplanned ignitions and appropriate risk management.  

The January edition of the Fire Science Digest comments further on this idea through "futures research" which may be a great supplement to the Quadrennial Fire Review and help guide our discussions about risk.  

The futurists suggest that one way or another, we will achieve resilience. Either at very high costs, or through some systematic approach that fosters resilience, or some combination of both.  Read more here
Home page of the new site.

FACNet Launches Updated Website and
FAC Self Assessment Tool


In addition to an updated and even more useful website with new Connect and Focus Areas features, the FACnet also launched its Self Assessment Tool to help answer the question, "How do you know when you're a fire adapted community?".  

The FAC Self Assessment Toll provides a mechanism to help communities work through the process themselves. Reviewing a number of indicators such as wildfire hazard, mitigation activities, values at risk, public engagement and partnerships, the tool enables communities to:

  • Identify their community’s values at risk;
  • Identify their community’s capacity to implement FAC activities;
  • Assess any gaps or limitations in funding, resources, partnerships and workforce/volunteers;
  • Prioritize future fire adaptation activities;
  • Complement other work plans; and
  • Increase understanding of long-term community fire adaptation needs.

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

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

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. 

November 28 - December 2, 2016 - Southwest Association for Fire Ecology Conference.  SAVE THE DATE for “Beyond Hazardous Fuels: Managing Fire for Social, Economic and Ecological Benefits,” hosted by AFE and the Southwest Fire Science Consortium.
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.   

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