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WRSC Newsletter #17 06/27/2014
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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 online at Feel free to contact us with ideas for articles or comments. 

Number of Available Air Tankers Increases

As fire season heats up, the Forest Service is prepared with several new air tankers to assist firefighters on the ground. By mid-July, the Forest Service expects to have 20 air tankers available for use on fires. Several of these large air tankers are retrofitted airliners. Two retrofitted MD-87s recently assisted on the Two Bulls Fire in Oregon. The MD-87's are capable of carrying 4,000 gallons of retardant. The new air tankers represent a significant effort by the Forest Service to modernize its firefighting air fleet. Read more here >  and here >

Sage-grouse Habitat Conservation Policy in Idaho

The combined impacts of wildfires and invasive plant species are primary threats to greater sage-grouse populations in Idaho because they destroy and fragment habitat. Because of that, and other threats, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed adding sage-grouse to the list of species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), a decision that will be finalized in September 2015. The State of Idaho’s goal is to prevent the ESA listing by identifying conservation activities intended to ensure the long-term viability of sage-grouse in the state.  An effective strategy to reduce the wildfire/invasives threat would include actions for: (1) protecting existing habitat by managing fuels, establishing fuel breaks, and restricting travel; (2) responding quickly to wildfires, using early detection methods and having the right resources in the right places at the right times; and (3) preventing invasive species from gaining footholds, which is best done by protecting existing habitat from wildfires and responding quickly to wildfires. An ESA listing will not be prevented unless such actions are adequately ensured by regulatory mechanisms.  This report from the University of Idaho’s Natural Resources Policy Analysis Group identifies what might suffice as adequate regulatory mechanisms. See the report here > 

"Catching Fire: Prescribed Burning in Northern California" Video 

The Cohesive Strategy recognizes that fire is an intrinsic part of landscape renewal, and the Western Regional Action Plan envisions the formation of collaborative groups that work together to restore the land, protect communities, and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. There is a group of people in the Klamath Mountains of Northern California who are doing just that, and they have documented their activities in a film called “Catching Fire: Prescribed Burning in Northern California”. The group includes the Orleans/Somes Bar Fire Safe Council, the Mid Klamath Watershed Council, the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council, the Forest Service, and the Karuk Tribe.

The Orleans/Somes Bar Fire Safe Council produced the documentary as an educational tool to expand the public’s understanding of the role fire plays in the mixed conifer forests of the West. It describes the history of fire use by the Karuk Tribe, the ecological consequences of the attempt to exclude fire during the past century, and efforts to expand the use of prescribed fire in the wildland urban interface so managed wildfires can become a socially acceptable form of fire management. The video combines modern scientific knowledge with Traditional Ecological Knowledge, presenting a cogent argument for returning fire to the landscape. The Western Regional Action Plan supports tribal collaborative landscape management under the overarching recommendations which address more than one goal area. Watch the video here, or contact Will Harling for a DVD.

California to Award Funds for Wildfire Prevention

California has allocated $10 million from a State Responsibility Area Fire Prevention Fund to award grants to counties and organizations for fire prevention activities. Local Fire Safe Councils, counties and other organizations will submit proposals for fire prevention projects that can be funded under this program. The money comes from a fee collected by the state on all homes in State Responsibility Areas. The $150. fee applies to 1.1 million acres of land and over 800,000 structures throughout California. The Western Regional Action Plan supports offering incentives to homeowners and communities to prepare for wildfire under Goal 2, Fire Adapted Communities. Read more here >

The Blog. A New Communications Tool

The WRSC partners are scattered across the country, making it difficult to have conversations that involve everyone. Using technology, we can hold discussions through an internet blog. The Western Regional Wildland Fire Management Strategy Blog provides an accessible place to post information of interest to our members. The blog provides an opportunity for folks to comment and for conversations to develop. Another feature of the blog is that it provides a link to an index of past newsletters, with descriptions of the stories in each newsletter, and a library of Western Cohesive Strategy documents. Please visit the blog and let us know what you think. There are already some thought provoking topics posted there! 

Fire Adapted Communities and Fire Learning Networks Meet

The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network and the Fire Learning Network recently held a national workshop in Colorado Springs to share ideas and build connections across networks. You can download a report and read about the workshop in "Notes From the Field" here >

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

July 15 1:00-2:00 PM EDT - Firewise Virtual Workshop: Understanding How Embers Ignite Roofs in a Wildland Fire and How to Make Your Roof More Survivable. Enrollment limited to 100. Register here >

July 24 2:00-3:30 PM EDT Stewardship Contracting: Overview, Updates, and Examples. Sponsored by the National Forest Foundation. Register here >
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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