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WRSC Newsletter #25 10/29/2014
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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. 

Tripod Fire Study Finds Fuel Treatments Affect Wildfire Burn Severity    

At the time of the 2006 Tripod Complex Fires, they were the largest wildfire event in over 50 years in Washington State, burning over 170,000 acres of mixed-conifer forests, including 387 past harvest and fuel-treatment units. Researchers evaluated differences in burn severity in areas with and without harvest and fuel treatments, as well as between areas with different landform, vegetation, insect outbreak and weather during burning. The relative influence of these drivers on burn severity during the fire was evaluated. Read the Research Brief here >
Key findings:
  • Even during extreme fire weather, harvest and fuel treatments influenced patterns of burn severity. 
  • Areas with prescribed burning of surface fuels were particularly effective at mitigating severity, even 20-30 years after treatments.
  • Areas with mountain pine beetle outbreak burned at higher severity than unaffected areas.
  • Elevation, vegetation type and structure, temperature, and relative humidity were also strong predictors of burn severity.
See the entire article - Fuel treatments and landform modify landscape patterns of burn severity in an extreme fire event by S.J Prichard and M.C. Kennedy.

Lake Tahoe Basin Fuel Reduction and  Wildfire Prevention Strategy  

It's been an active fire season in the Sierra Nevadas, with the King Fire burning almost 98,000 acres, and the much smaller Cascade Fire, which was stopped at 20 acres. A recent opinion piece in the Lake Tahoe News reminds Tahoe area residents that federal, state and local agencies are collaborating to reduce fuels and prevent wildfires in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The Lake Tahoe Basin Multi-Jurisdictional Fuel Reduction and Wildfire Prevention Strategy was updated in August of this year, assessing the work done to date and setting forth a plan for the future. The original Strategy identified 68,000 acres as high priority for fuel reduction. Since 2008, 12,000 acres identified as high priority in CWPPs have been treated by nonfederal partners, and the US Forest Service (USFS) has treated 26,000 acres. The USFS spearheaded the update to the strategy to address new issues and challenges. The update ensures coordination with national wildland fire policy and addresses the loss of markets for biomass and other wood products from forests thinning. Read more here>.

Another news story on the King Fire describes the work a US Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) crew is doing to secure areas of the Eldorado National Forest burned in the King Fire. The extreme fire cooked the soil, creating hydrophobic soils that are highly likely to erode with rainfall, causing mudslides and flooding downstream. The BAER team of botanists, geologists and hydrologists will report on the conditions in advance of restoration  work. A video explains how hydrophobic soils differ from normal soils. See the article and embedded video here >

The Western Regional Action Plan supports fuel treatments to reduce wildfire effects and restoration of damaged landscapes under Goal 1, Restore and Maintain Resilient Landscapes.

Dealing With the Emotional Impacts of Wildfire

A psychologist who lives in Central California offers a first-hand look at the emotional scars that are left by wildfires, and how the community comes together to heal the landscape and the people. "We all recognize that stress and loss are part of life, but when it hits so hard and so quickly, it is difficult to swallow. The string of area wildfires has left in its wake sheer devastation."..."The wildfires have not only stolen property, homes and beloved pets from families. They have taken individuals' foundational sense of safety. The children and parents affected by these fires may have pervasive anxiety and worry that they are not safe and that it can happen again." Read more here >.

Prescribed Fire Councils Promote Use of Prescribed Fire and Host TREX

The core mission of prescribed fire councils is to promote the appropriate use of prescribed fire for enhancing public safety, managing resources and sustaining environmental quality. There are currently 33 prescribed fire councils located in 28 states, and the umbrella Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils, which links the individual councils, to create one voice for prescribed burning. Prescribed fire councils have been key players in hosting Prescribed Fire TRaining EXchanges (TREX), which teach prescribed fire skills while conducting burns on high risk areas to protect communities, sponsored by the US Forest Service, Department of the Interior, and The Nature Conservancy. 

Prescribed fire councils in Arizona, California, North Carolina, and Virginia have been working to deliver TREX programs. State level prescribed fire councils are leaders in cooperative burning and inter-organizational controlled burns. Training exchanges require substantial coordination - from field trips and burn plans to organizing equipment and selecting a diverse group of participants - activities that councils have demonstrated their ability to accomplish. Another successful TREX was held in Northern California this month. The Western Regional Strategy Action Plan supports increased fire use and building community capacity under Goal 1- Restore and Maintain Resilient Landscapes and Goal 2 - Fire Adapted Communities. For more information on upcoming TREX opportunities, see the Nature Conservancy's website.

Karuk Tribe Returns Fire to the Land  

This article in the Two Rivers Tribune reflects a Native American perspective on the cultural tradition of fire use. The Klamath TREX was profiled in Newsletter #24, but it is worth revisiting to see how the Karuk Tribe melded the prescribed fire training with their cultural traditions. The fire was ignited at the Tishàniik, the Karuk ceremonial area. When it was determined that the fuels at the site were dry enough, the priest, or Fatawanun in the Karuk language, said a prayer and lit the first flames from a traditional elk horn carefully packed with tinder.  Bill Tripp, Eco-cultural Restoration Specialist with the Karuk Tribe, said the area was regularly burned by Karuk villagers a century ago, before traditional burning was outlawed. He said Tishániik fires were lit to clean the area for World-Renewal dances, and to promote new growth of willows for basket weaving. "Our goal is to return fire back to the people again", said Will Harling of the Mid-Klamath Watershed Council. "Success isn't measured in just acres, but by the locals who choose to carve a few weeks out of their busy fall to help bring good fire back to these mountains again. Read the full account here >.

Tribal Relations Partnership Guide

The USFS Office of Tribal Relations has published a Guide, Start a Partnership With the USDA Forest Service or Obtain Federal Financial Assistance: A Guide for Tribal Governments to assist tribal governments with obtaining financial assistance and working on projects in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture. In every region of the country, Tribal Relations Program Managers work with tribes on projects, including stewardship contracting, Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects, forest health and wildfire mitigation projects, and many more.

The Guide describes the process for obtaining federal financial assistance (FFA) on projects and partnerships at the forest, unit, or station level. And it describes the many programs available. The Guide is an important resource for restoring landscapes and protecting communities from wildfire, and recognizes the importance of our tribal partners. Read the Guide here >

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

November 6-8 - Wildland Fire Smoke Workshop - Albuquerque, NM. Conference information >

November 13 2:00-3:30 PM EDT, A Discussion of Challenges and Opportunities Associated with Forest Planning & Collaboration: A Partnership Network Peer Learning Session. Webinar information >

December 15 - Abstracts due for presenters at the 2015 Backyards & Beyond Conference.
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
Joe Stutler
Co-Chair (Non-federal representative) 
Deschutes County
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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