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WRSC Newsletter #20 08/08/2014
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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 Resilient Landscapes, Fire Adapted Communities and Wildfire Response. 

Archived issues of the WRSC newsletter are available on our web channel. Feel free to contact us with ideas for articles or comments. 

California Adds National Guard Resources

On Sunday, August 2nd Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in 11 California counties, and FEMA approved four Fire Management Assistance Grants to help ensure the availability of vital resources to fight the Bald, Day, Eiler, and Oregon Gulch fires. Governor Brown also directed the California National Guard to provide two specialized firefighting C-130J aircraft and crews from the 146th Airlift Wing to assist in fighting wildfires in Northern California. The CNG C-130J aircraft are equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System II (MAFFS), capable of dropping up to 3,000 gallons of water or retardant.

Summer lightning storms sparked multiple fires in the dry lands of Northern California. “The California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System was created to provide of a systematic mobilization, organization and operation of fire resources in mitigating the effects of fires,” said State Fire and Rescue Chief Kim Zagaris. Currently, more than 1,600 firefighters from across the state are working together to contain 14 active wildfires – 11 in Northern California and 3 in Southern California.

Videos on Prescribed Fire Benefit

Prescribed fire is often viewed with trepidation by the public. Two videos bring out the positive effects of prescribed fire and describe how they are beneficial for wildfire risk reduction and wildlife habitat enhancement. The Prescribed Fire: A Multipurpose Tool video, produced by the Northwest Fire Science Consortium, illustrates multiple uses of prescribed fire: for wildfire risk reduction in ponderosa pine stands of the Metolius Basin in Oregon, and for habitat enhancement in the Tenalquot Prairie in Washington. The video tells us "today we know that fire is essential to the health of our forests and rangelands." 

The Fire Effects in the Forest video produced by Oklahoma State University Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources describes the beneficial effects of prescribed fire in Oklahoma's pine and oak 
savannas and shows differing results of varying fire return intervals. 

Both videos make the point that fire is good for the landscape under controlled conditions, and that different landscapes require different treatments. The Western Regional Action Plan supports public education on western fire issues under the overarching goals of the Cohesive Strategy.

Stephen Pyne on the "Box and Burn" Paradigm

In the essay Squaring the Triangle: Fire at San CarlosStephen Pyne documents the approach taken by fire and forest managers when lightning sparked two fires on San Carlos Indian Reservation in southeastern Arizona in April of this year. The fires were not seen as a hazard that must be quickly extinguished, but as an opportunity to return fire to land that needed its restorative effects. In depth analysis of the geology, vegetation, and social history of the area are brought together to describe an approach "that allowed fire officers to confine and contain wildfires. They were neither direct-attacking the fires nor leaving them to burn, but loose-herding, boxing-in and burning-out wildfire, and by doing so they were devising a surrogate for prescribed fire, much as prescribed fire had been promoted as a surrogate for natural fire." Pyne tells us that, "Box and burn is not a simple tool, like a Neptune air tanker or a D6 caterpillar that can be dropped into any landscape. It is a negotiation between fire and fire managers. Like all things human it has to be learned, but unlike many it is not something easily taught." Read the full article.

SAF Position on Wildland Fire Management

In June, the Society of American Foresters revised their position statement on wildland fire management. The new position directly addresses the goal of Restoring Resilient Landscapes and states: "There are four inextricably related issues that must be addressed to reduce the average size of wildfires and their undesirable effects. First, it is our position that the pace and scale of management activities, especially hazardous fuels treatments, must be accelerated to restore fire-adapted forested landscapes. Second, where appropriate, direct fire suppression resources to control fires quickly and safely to prevent destructive large fire events. Third, develop fire-adapted and resilient communities by cross-boundary coordination between homeowners, communities, and local, state, and federal government efforts. Last, sufficient and stable federal firefighting budgets must be available to avoid disrupting other essential programs, especially increased investment in presuppression activities related to hazardous fuel reduction." Read the full statement here >

San Juan Fire Proves Forest Thinning Works

In late June, the San Juan Fire in Arizona started on White Mountain Apache tribal land, and was driven by wind into the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. The fire "laid down" when it hit areas of mechanical treatment or thinning from the White Mountain Stewardship contract. A fire "lays down" when the intensity of the fire, including heat and flame lengths, drops significantly so firefighters can safely suppress it. Appropriate fuel treatments seek to reduce potential flame lengths to under 4', so firefighters can safely use hand tools and water packs to extinguish hot spots, without relying on extraordinary suppression efforts such as tanker drops and bulldozer support.

Approximately 70,000 acres were thinned under the White Mountain Stewardship Contract, and a large portion of those treatments were in the path of the San Juan Fire. This opinion article, written by Jim Zornes, Apache-Sitgreaves Forest Supervisor, explains how fuel treatments modified the behavior of the fire and saved resources and lives. And he talks about the collaborative efforts that contributed to the large-scale fuel treatments. "Treatment activities funded from partnership dollars, along with work being done by the Navajo, Greenlee and Apache counties in partnership with Arizona State Forestry and White Mountain Apache Tribe, have contributed greatly to treating both sides of the ownership lines, whether it is federal, state or private land.Those partnership activities will continue to make advancements in protecting communities and resources in the White Mountains."

The Western Regional Action Plan supports stewardship contracting and fuels treatments to reduce fuels under Goal 1, Restore and Maintain Resilient Landscapes

Special Issue Features
Fire Adapted Communities

The latest issue of Fire Management Today features many articles focused on the development and importance of fire adapted communities (FAC). The issue opens with a discussion of forest suppression doctrine by Tom Harbour, Director of Fire and Aviation Management. He reminds us that despite all the risks inherent in firefighting, our goal is to bring everyone involved home safe and sound at the end of the day. Several articles introduce the FAC concept, and the actions that should be undertaken before a fire. The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network approach, the role of the fire department, and ignition-resistant building materials in a FAC are also discussed. This issue is sure to be a great resource for communities throughout the country! 

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

August 15-16 The 2013 Rim Fire - Forest Management Influencing Fire Ecology; Sacramento, CA  sponsored through the ESA Annual Meeting 2014.     For more information >

August 19 4:00-5:00 PM EDT Firewise Virtual Workshop - Mulch Combustibility. Register here >

August 21 Pinaleno Field Trip - Safford, AZ One-day SW Fire Science Consortium field trip Register here >

August 22-23 Northern and Southern California Society of American Foresters 2014 Summer Meeting - Tuolumne, CA.  "Economic and Environmental Impacts of Large Wildfires". Register here > or contact Kevin Locke at 1.800.738.8733.

August 29 Deadline for submitting a proposal to speak at 2015 Backyards & Beyond Conference. Conference information >

September 16-18 State-and-Transition Simulation Modeling Conference - Ft. Collins, CO. Conference information >

Stay up-to-date with the WRSC by visiting our web channel! We invite your comments!
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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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