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WRSC Newsletter #27 12/12/2014
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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. 

2014 Fire Siege Video

The Pacific Northwest Coordinating Group (PNWCG) is documenting the 2014 fire season in which over one and a quarter million acres burned in the states of Washington and Oregon. PNWCG produced a video, 2014 Fire Siege, which brings together dramatic video footage, photographs, and interviews with residents and representatives of many of the agencies and groups that took part in successfully fighting this year's fires. The fire season began in January, after the driest fall on record in 2013. It took a break and resumed in June. At one point over 12,000 firefighters and support personnel were on the ground in Oregon and Washington. 2013 and 2014 were the worst two back to back fire seasons in the Pacific Northwest in over a century of record-keeping.

One point that several people in the video make is the spirit of cooperation and helpfulness shown by the firefighters and support personnel. Dan O'Brien, Manager of the Northwest Coordination Center says, "The level of cooperation and coordination that's gone on between the agencies, between the dispatch centers, between the incident management teams, and all the layers of the organizations and the agencies has been fantastic! It's been beautiful to watch!". The end of the video is heart-warming with its thank you and tribute to the myriad people who came together this year to help fight fires in the Pacific Northwest. This spirit, captured in the video, is the same as the vision of the Cohesive Strategy. Working together, we will restore more landscapes, protect more communities, and respond to fires better.

Cameras to Ring Lake Tahoe to Spot Wildfires    

Early detection of wildfires leads to quick response and greater success in containing fires while they are small. One of the Guiding Principles of the Cohesive Strategy is "Safe aggressive initial attack is often the best suppression strategy to keep unwanted wildfires small and costs down." Scientists in Nevada are working to expand an early earthquake warning system that will also employ cameras to detect wildfire starts. Researchers are seeking private funding to expand the system after a pilot program conducted by the University of Nevada's Seismological Laboratory was deemed a success. Three stations are currently in use, with a fourth to be installed soon. The stations use a wireless, digital microwave communication system that can also be used to obtain weather data. They envision installing an additional 15 devices at a cost of about $2 million.

In August, Mac Heller of the US Forest Service used the device to detect the Spooner fire on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. Firefighters contained the fire at a half-acre. Lake Tahoe's fire chiefs are impressed with the system. "What they have to offer is awesome when it comes to early detection", said Mike Brown, chief of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District. Read more here >.

Hawaii Updates CWPPs to Create Fire Adapted Communities

Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) is holding a series of public meetings to hear concerns and solutions to wildfire issues to incorporate in updates to four Community Wildfire Protection Plans. Ilene Grossman, the CWPP Update project manager said, "We are updating these plans because they have lost community momentum. The projects and input are outdated, and with predicted drought to follow this current vegetation growth, the fire hazard will likely be very high in the near future." Read more about the CWPP update process here >.
HWMO is also initiating six new CWPPs, so that highest risk communities throughout the state of Hawaii will be covered by a CWPP. Funding for the updates and new CWPPs comes from US Forest Service Wildland Urban Interface grants. To follow through with CWPP prioritized actions, HWMO is hosting Ready, Set, Go! wildfire preparedness workshops and distributing a Hawaii version of the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide. Community action teams formed during these efforts are further being supported by HWMO to work toward Firewise Communities/USA designations and Fire Adapted Communities overall goals. For more information, see the 
HWMO website >

"Emissions and Smoke" Web Portal and Videos

Have you explored the Emissions and Smoke Portal? It is a joint effort by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group's (NWCG) Smoke Committee, the University of Idaho, and the Fire Research and Management Exchange System (FRAMES). The portal features education resources, the Smoke Management Guidebook, and resources on public perceptions and tolerance of wildland fire smoke. 
On the home page, you can find the WFSTAR training video Smoke: Knowing the Risks, which examines the physiological and mental impacts of smoke on humans. Smoke exposure affects firefighters' ability to think clearly and make good risk management decisions. Smoke adds to risk because people are unable to judge the level of their own impairment. This is an important video for anyone in the field of firefighting. Watch the video here >.

On the Smoke Perceptions page, there is a 4-part series of videos on Public Perceptions of Smoke from Wildland Fire. Smoke is an important issue in both prescribed fire and wildfire. It is a major source of public resistance to prescribed fire, and can limit opportunities to reduce fuels in high risk areas using prescribed fire. 

Council of Western State Foresters 2014 Accomplishment Report   

The Council of Western State Foresters (CWSF) has released its 2014 Accomplishment Report. Actions were guided by the 2014 CWSF Implementation Plan and the Western Forestry Leadership Council’s Strategic Plan, which is based on state forest action plans. The 2014 CWSF Implementation Plan was categorized into four areas: enhancing public benefit from trees and forests, protecting forests from threats, conserving and managing working forests, and organizational success and fiscal responsibility. Read the report here >

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

December 15 - Abstracts due for presenters at the 2015 Backyards & Beyond Conference.

January 21, 2015 - Training Exchanges from the Ground Up webinar with Jeremy Bailey and Ben Wheeler hosted by Great Plains Fire Science Exchange. Noon MST. Log in here.

January 21, 2015 - The Ability of Wildfire to Act as a Fuel Treatment webinar. Noon MST. Northern Rockies Fire Science Network and the Southwest Fire Science Consortium. For more 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
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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