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WRSC Newsletter #23 09/24/2014
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The Western Regional Strategy Committee (WRSC) delivers articles and stories 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 the public. Past issues of the WRSC newsletter are available on our blog. Feel free to contact us with ideas for articles or comments. 

"Colorado's Forests: Challenges and Opportunities" Video Series 

The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and Colorado State University (CSU) have created an online video series that explains how active forest management reduces wildfire threats and addresses other forest issues. The four-part series is called “Colorado’s Forests: Challenges and Opportunities.” Each video is about 10 minutes in length and covers a different aspect of forest challenges. This fabulous educational tool has applicability well beyond Colorado’s borders! To obtain copies of the four video segments in DVD format, contact Ryan Lockwood, Colorado State Forest Service.
Part 1, “Colorado Forests: Past, Present and Future” introduces the problems Colorado’s forest face, including catastrophic wildfire and bark beetle infestations. Historical photos show the difference between the region 100 years ago and today. Though the Cohesive Strategy is not specifically mentioned, the solution is described as agencies working together across boundaries to address problems, reducing fuel loads, and mitigating wildfire risk.…which sounds a lot like the Cohesive Strategy! 
Part 2, “Forest Management: Creating Resilient Forests for Colorado” looks at the problems forests face from insect infestations, wildfires, and post-fire flooding, and describes the CSFS role in working with landowners and partner agencies to monitor trends and provide treatments to restore resiliency.
Part 3, “Colorado’s Wildland-Urban Interface: A Growing Challenge” looks at the ever-present concern of wildfires in the WUI. Much of the video segment contrasts outcomes in mitigated vs. unmitigated areas following the 2013 Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs. Interviews with homeowners attest to the value of defensible space to save homes.
Part 4, “Colorado’s Wood Products Industry: Essential to Long-Term Forest Health” shows the link between markets for wood products and the ability to perform the forest treatments necessary for forest health. The video highlights some growing wood products businesses, including those using woody biomass to create gas for clean energy, or burning wood chips for heat, and a company that uses Colorado beetle-killed wood to make downhill skis. 

Motivating Homeowners to Reduce Fuels 

A new study published in the International Journal of Wildland Fire finds that most homeowners are willing to take part in cost-share programs that help to pay for wildfire risk mitigation on their properties. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the West Region Wildfire Council. The researchers surveyed residents of the community of Log Hill Mesa near Ridgeway, CO and found that 84% said they would participate in a cost-share program for removing vegetation on their properties. The study found that a decision to participate was based on both financial incentive and not knowing what needs to be done on their property. A surprising finding of the study was that some people whose risk was rated higher by a professional were less likely to participate in cost-share programs than those with a lower assessed risk. Read more here >

A Fire Adapted Community - Weaverville, CA and the Oregon Fire

In a recent Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network post called “It takes all three to protect a community”, Nick Goulette describes how his neighborhood in Weaverville, CA was spared destruction by the Oregon Fire on August 24th, 2014.
Nick tells us, “the real story is that only through the timely and effective implementation of all three National Cohesive Wildfire Strategy goals in combination, was the community spared far worse consequences. And everyone –from local residents and community leaders, to federal and state agency land and fire managers - played their part.”
He describes a series of actions taken by different groups, beginning with the Trinity County Fire Safe Council, active since 1999 in developing the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), fuels management projects, public engagement and education programs, and mitigation projects across boundaries. The Trinity County Resource Conservation District (RCD), worked with the US Forest Service to implement strategic fuels breaks, which helped to slow the spread of the wildfire. The USFS worked with local landowners to reduce fuels with the Five Cent Gulch prescribed burn project. This 2013 burn unit was a pivotal feature when the Oregon Fire approached. The treatment slowed the fire’s advance and reduced the intensity of the fire. And the suppression response by fire managers was rapid, extensive, aggressive, but calculated.
“It was years of preparation, collaboration, training, community engagement, and active land management that carried the day. Fire adapted communities work on all three Cohesive Strategy goals.” Read the full story here >.

Oregon Offers Innovative Citizen Fire Academy

Oregon State University Extension Service (OSU) is offering a new, state-wide program called the Citizen Fire Academy (CFA). The CFA is a collaborative education program designed to increase the outreach capacity of fire agencies, to maintain and enhance fire-adapted communities, and engage local citizens. The goal is to increase implementation of defensible space and other firewise practices, and build residents’ capacity to deal with wildfire.
The CFA course trains volunteers to support and expand natural resource and fire agencies with community outreach and engagement activities. The 35 hour training combines online tutorials, discussions, and field tours covering topics in fire science, living in a fire environment, home protection strategies, fire resistant landscapes, evacuation planning, and fuels reduction strategies. Participants will learn to conduct home assessments and to assess fuels and fire risk. The course is taught by subject experts and tailored to local conditions. Partner agencies include Oregon Department of Forestry, OSU, Project Wildfire, rural fire districts, and other agencies. Funding for CFA is provided by a State and Private Forestry Grant from ODF to  pilot-test four trainings in distinct regions of Oregon over a three year period. Each CFA graduate will provide 35 or more hours of volunteer service to local fire districts, ODF, or other partners. 

The first Citizen Fire Academy class was held in the Southwestern area of the state. The Central Oregon Citizen Fire Academy class is the second location where it is offered. The class will run from October 8th through November 19th. The cost is $75.00, contact Nicole Strong for more information.

New Hospital Liaison Program    

The Klamath NF (KNF) is known for its tough and unforgiving terrain and long duration fire events. In response to the number of medical cases associated with these wildland incidents, the KNF developed a Hospital Liaison Program. The program was developed to fill a need when people became injured. "Most people that get transported off of the fire have no idea where they are going. They don't normally have a cell phone or money. We make sure the patient is being taken care of, providing transportation, lodging, meals and most important, support..."

During the month of August 2014, the KNF provided hospital liaisons for 47 patients. Patients included Forest Service employees from across the country, interagency partners, cooperators and contractors. The Western Regional Action Plan supports improving firefighter safety and health under Goal 3. Read more here >.

CWPP Study Suggests Reducing Structural Ignitability

A new study by researchers at the University of Oregon examined 113 Community Wildfire Protection Plans in 10 western states, looking at length, structure, recommendations, and a variety of other components. The study found that 86% of the plans identified areas for fuel reduction treatments, focusing primarily on three treatment actions: creation of defensible space around structures, creation of fuel breaks, and forest stand thinning. Little attention was paid to actions by homeowners and communities to build less ignitable structures or to build local community capacity for fire preparedness and response. The study suggests that as CWPPs are updated, there is ample room for diversification, improvement and community engagement. The Western Regional Action Plan supports creating and updating CWPPs to promote fire adapted communities under Goal 2. Read more here >.

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

September - Preparedness Month - Contact your state Office of Emergency Management for information on how to engage in preparedness activities all year long.

October 3 Extension Opportunities with the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy webinar, 9 AM MDT. Conference information

October 8 - November 19th Central Oregon Citizen Fire Academy, For more information 

October 9 - Alaska Fall Fire Science Workshop, Fairbanks, AK, Contact Alison York 

October 21-22 - Restoring the West Conference 2014, Utah State University, Logan, UT. Conference information >

October 23-24 National Workshop on Large Landscape Conservation, Washington, DC. Conference information >

November 6-8 Wildland Fire Smoke Workshop - Albuquerque, NM. Conference information >
Stay up-to-date with the WRSC by visiting our web channel! We invite your comments!
Does your agency or community have a project or event you'd like to see featured in the WRSC Newsletter? Tell us about it! Just contact Cheryl Renner.
Tony Harwood
Co-chair (Tribal representative)
Confederated Salsih and Kootenai Tribes
Ann Walker
Co-Chair (Non-federal representative) 
Western Governors' Association
Brad Washa
Co-chair (shared Federal representative)
Bureau of Land Management
Denise Blankenship
Co-Chair (shared Federal representative)
US Forest Service
Katie Lighthall
Coordinator, Western Region
Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy 
Cheryl Renner
Communications Support, Western Region
Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy
Copyright © 2014 Western Regional Strategy Committee, All rights reserved.

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