December 14, 2015

Newsletter #38


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Resilient Landscapes
Fire Adapted Communities
Safe and Effective Wildfire Response
In this issue:
WRSC meets in San Diego to set an aggressive, three-year work plan. Photo: Kate Lighthall

Western Regional Strategy Committee
Sets Aggressive Three Year Action Plan

Core team members and senior regional leaders came together in November to discuss priorities and an aggressive work plan for the WRSC over the next three years. The group agreed to a more hands-on approach for facilitating implementation of the Cohesive Strategy across the West. Candid conversation led to the development of a robust plan that includes: 
  • Increased strategic communications including the development of a marketing plan;  
  • Active engagement with the Wildland Fire Leadership Council and the National Strategic Committee;
  • Active engagement of stakeholders to focus on Fire Adapted Communities;
  • Expansion of the Western Region as a "reference" and "coaching" resource to stakeholders;
  • Monitoring of Cohesive Strategy implementation across the West; and 
  • Enhancing large landscape collaboration. 
The real outcomes of the workshop were a result of co-locating with the fall meeting of the Council of Western State Foresters and the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition.  We strengthened relationships with state and regional foresters and are looking forward to multiple projects that support and assist these leaders as they take advantage of the philosophy of the Cohesive Strategy.  Read more here.

 Assessing Mitigation Effectiveness
in the New Mexico WUI

The Forest Stewards Guild, with support from the Joint Fire Science Program, assessed wildland fire mitigation activities in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) of New Mexico to identify which strategies are most effective.  The project and subsequent report highlight these components: 
  • How modeled fuel treatments changed wildfire behavior in 12 WUI areas. 
  • Data and analysis from over 2,000 assessments fostered a better understanding of how hazards are distributed and change over time. 
  • The important role of the Firewise Communities/USA program in public wildfire education.
  • Examination of nine (9) Community Wildfire Protection Plan case studies which integrate  elements of wildfire mitigation. 
  • A synthesis of lessons learned from WUI mitigation in New Mexico.
The Cohesive Strategy supports this type of adaptive management to daylight issues and lessons learned to help inform decisions in the future.  Read more here
Firefighters battle Eastern Redcedar in Oklahoma. Source:

Prescribed Fire Reducing Risk in Nebraska

Stakeholders met in Kearney, Nebraska in early December to discuss the benefits of prescribed fire on landscapes there. The state, in addition to all the Great Plains states, has an ongoing problem with the invasive, highly flammable Eastern Redcedar, which has encroached on 50-60% of the rangelands there. Read more here.   
Clearwater Basin Collaborative.  Photo: CBC

Partnerships Leading to Great Success in North Central Idaho

The Clearwater Basin Collaborative Committee was recently recognized with the Abraham Lincoln External Partnership Honor Award for their thoughtful deliberative problem solving that resulted in accelerated restoration and ecological, social, and economic benefits for the citizens of North Central Idaho. The group has collaborated on dozens of restoration projects, including the Farm Bill priority landscapes, and built public support for active management within the Nez Perce - Clearwater National Forests. Great example of Cohesive Strategy implementation! More here.
County Commissioners visiting site of 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire.  Photo: NACo.

Counties a Valuable Asset
in Mitigating Wildfire Risk

The National Association of Counties (NACo) sponsored the Safe and Secure Counties Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO this month.  Over 200 county commissioners and supervisors attended the conference and received valuable education around a variety of disasters including wildfire and subsequent flooding, cyber threats, crisis communications and other  challenges that counties are facing today.  The Western Region for the Cohesive Strategy was on the agenda to discuss management strategies along with local fire and water officials who have the unfortunate experience of dealing with two large wildfires that destroyed hundreds of homes in the recent past - the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 and the Black Forest Fire in 2013.  The session ended on a high note with a field visit to the site of the Waldo Canyon Fire where county commissioners and supervisors heard more about the response to the fire, what local jurisdictions have implemented since then to reduce the risk of future large scale losses and the challenges still being confronted.  More here and here.
Home destroyed by fire in California. Photo Kyle Dickman.

Losing Homes to Wildfire
is a Sociopolitical Problem

Jack Cohen, research physical fire scientist with the U.S. Forest Service, says the loss of homes to wildfire is as much a sociopolitical problem as it is a physical, on-the-ground problem.  

"Wildland fires are inevitable. And without homeowner engagement, without their participation in mitigating the problem, firefighters can't be effective. It's continuing a problem to have my own agency, federal agencies in general, and most fire departments in this country that deal with wildland fire issues, not be telling people that by and large, under the conditions that destroy lots of houses, we can't deal with this without your participation. It's about taking responsibility for the condition of your house, before the fire, because nobody else can."  Read more here



Innovative Approach
Helping Communities in New Mexico

The Wildfire Network is a newly launched non-profit organization that builds local capacity for wildfire mitigation and forest resiliency in New Mexico by providing a one-stop-shop for: collaboratively integrating business, agencies and communities to address the critical risk reduction of wildland urban interface communities and building workforce capacity through career-building youth training and industry support for existing mitigation resources.  More here
Photo: Darell Meyer, KPS Group, Alabama Community Planning 

New Quick Guides to Help Communities


FAC Net announces the release its latest set of quick guides focused on using plans and regulations to increase community fire adaptation. This four-part series highlights opportunities to integrate wildfire into planning and regulatory approaches, shares insights on how each approach works and where they apply, and provides tips on how these approaches may complement other fire adapted community strategies. These quick guides are meant to empower practitioners seeking additional guidance, insights and examples to start or continue community wildfire planning efforts.  Read more and get the Quick Guides here

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

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

January 13, 2016 - Effectiveness of Wildfire Mitigation in the WUI.  Webinar, Noon Mountain Time.  Discussion of the Forest Stewards Guild's recent report, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Wildfire Mitigation Activities in the Wildland-Urban Interface.” 

February 23-25, 2016 - Sagebrush Ecosystem Conservation: All Lands, All Hands in Salt Lake City, UT.  This conference will share the latest information on the conservation, restoration and maintenance of resilient sagebrush ecosystems.

March 8-10, 2016 - IAFC's Wildland Urban Interface Conference in Reno, NV.   

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.  
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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