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WRSC Newsletter #18 07/11/2014
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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. 

East Face Forest Restoration Project

The East Face project is a multi-agency collaborative restoration project that aims to reduce fuels, enhance wildlife habitat, protect the watershed, and create fire adapted communities within the Grand Ronde and Powder River watersheds in eastern Oregon. The East Face project is one of 13 projects selected as a Joint Chiefs' Initiative between the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Forest Service. Public and private lands will benefit from fuels reduction. The project will contribute to local and regional employment, recognize and support tribal treaty rights and traditional cultural practices, protect the municipal watershed from the effects of severe wildfire, and will incorporate the principles of the Cohesive Strategy. See the website for more information.

New Mexico Creates "After Wildfire" Guide  

Communities prepare for wildfire, but how prepared are they to deal with the after effects of wildfire - such as post-fire flooding and erosion - which can cause more destruction than the fire itself? New Mexico State Forestry and partner agencies have created an online guide that offers information on mobilizing the community, agencies and organizations to contact for help, the effectiveness and application of post-fire land stabilization treatments, flood information, and more. The Guide is designed to be used as a website (each page is printable) and has hyperlinks to many additional resources. Much of the Guide, particularly the section on post-fire stabilization techniques, is useful information for people in other western states. See the "After Wildfire Guide" here 

Memories of South Canyon and Yarnell Hill Fires 

It's been 20 years since 14 firefighters were lost at Colorado's South Canyon Fire, and just one year since 19 firefighters were lost in Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire. This National Geographic article by John Maclean, author of "Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire", looks at the similarities of these tragedies, and what we need to learn from them. Over the past century western states, including California, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Colorado, have had the highest number of wildland firefighter fatalities in the country. The first principle of the Cohesive Strategy is to reduce risk to firefighters and the public as the first priority in every fire management activity. Goal 3 of the Western Regional Action Plan focuses on ways to reduce risk to firefighters.   

A new two part training video, WFSTAR Pt 1, 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain documents the memories of 11 firefighters who survived the South Canyon Fire. A key lesson from the video is that firefighters in charge "should listen to everyone on the crew", something that was not the practice 20 years ago. 

California Facing Driest Fire Season 

Southern California is facing the warmest and driest fire season since the record drought of 1958-1960. "This is the first time in my career that we have a fire season that did not end and just kept going through the winter and now into the summer", said Robert Lewin, fire chief for CalFire in San Luis Obispo. "The drought is absolutely having a big impact on wildfires", said CalFire spokesman, Daniel Berlant. CalFire anticipated a long fire season and geared up early, adding additional staff. CalFire also stepped up public service announcements and radio and television advertisements by about 10 times for this year, Berlant said. Since 90% of wildfires in the area are human-caused, CalFire is emphasizing the "One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire" campaign which focuses on reducing sparks that can cause wildfires.  Read more here > and here >

Stephen Pyne Opines on Wildfire Policy

In this article, "Burn, Baby, Burn - If We Say So", Stephen Pyne reviews the last century of fire exclusion and the emerging acceptance of fire as a positive force within ecological systems. He tells us, "In the season (and years) to come, we'll see plenty of strong initial attacks on new fires. Around exurbs and cities, agencies will hurl everything at hand in an effort to squelch the flames before they can gain purchase. Elsewhere, responses will differ by agency, but the likely approach will be variations of point protection and "box and burn"."

video by Josh McDaniel of the Southwest Fire Science Consortium explains the benefits of the box and burn technique, which uses large, low-intensity burnouts on the perimeter of the fire to increase firefighter safety and take advantage of natural terrain features to contain the fire. He uses the management of Arizona's Slide Fire as an example of the changing nature of wildfire management in the West.

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 16 3:00 PM EDT The Nature Conservancy & Forest Service NEPA Discussion. Webinar. Login here >. Intended primarily for TNC staff, but other interested partners are invited to join.

July 17 1:00-2:00 PM MDT The National Climate Assessment and Wildland Fire Implications. Webinar. Register here >

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

Stay up-to-date with the WRSC by visiting our Blog!
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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