Newsletter #43

June 15, 2016


Resilient Landscapes
Fire Adapted Communities
Safe & Effective Wildfire Response
A publication by the Western Region to highlight progress within the framework of the
Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy and demonstrations of successful implementation across the West. 

In this issue:

The Bert Fire, June 2016. Photos: Jonathan Barrett, Kaitlin Webb and Art Gonzales, Kaibab National Forest.

Shifting the Paradigm to Managing Fires
for Their Natural Role

The paradigm around managing wildland fire is beginning to shift. The vision of the Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy is to safely and effectively extinguish fire, when needed; use fire where allowable, manage our natural resources; and as a nation, live with wildland fire. In order to fully realize this vision, stakeholders must acknowledge their risk and be willing to take some risk in the short-term for the longer term benefit of landscape resiliency, fire adapted communities and a safe and effective wildfire response. 

This vision, and its inherent acceptance of risk and willingness to take some risk, has been employed in the Southwest for well past a decade. The Bert Fire is underway now and managers are taking advantage of the right conditions to engage this strategy - protecting what's valuable, and managing the lightning-caused fire so it can play its natural role on this landscape.  With public support!  Read more here.  And follow the continuing conversations here and here.

Implementing the Cohesive Strategy
in Southern Utah

The Southern Utah Resilient Landscapes Collaborative has embraced the principles and tenets of the Cohesive Strategy as they engage a new approach to achieve fire resiliency goals across landscapes based on collaborative goals. This "all hands - all lands" approach is strengthening fire management's ability to restore and maintain landscapes across all jurisdictions, while increasing their overall resistance to disturbance. 

With an influx of $3.5 million from the Department of Interior's Wildland Fire Resilient Landscapes program, the Collaborative will continue to work across boundaries to reduce hazardous fuels to improve resiliency and improve critical habitat. Click on the image above for the video and see more here
Panelists discussing how to create more fire adapted communities. Photo: Kate Lighthall

County Commissioners Learn and Share How to Work Across Jurisdictional Boundaries to Become More Fire Adapted 

In late May, the WRSC and the Western Interstate Region of the National Association of Counties coordinated a panel presentation of federal, state and local leaders to share experiences about working across jurisdictions to help their communities become more fire adapted.  

Each shared experiences in an interactive format with the large audience of county commissioners. The dialogue was broad and ultimately landed on the successes that can occur when strong working relationships are in place.  

The WRSC will continue to support an ongoing dialogue among county commissioners on a variety of topics around wildland fire. Read more here.   
Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, WY.  Photo: Kate Lighthall 

Western Governors Set Priorities
through Resolutions

Governors from the Western U.S. met this week in Jackson, WY to set the path forward for the upcoming year.  The Wildland Fire Management and Resilient Landscapes policy resolution is one of seven new resolutions that support and/or call for action to address a variety of natural resource issues including an end to "fire borrowing", full implementation of the FLAME Act and the Cohesive Strategy and full implementation of the Regional Action Plans. More here.

Collaborative, Community Driven Action in Pagosa Springs, CO  

The San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership has been instrumental in coordinating treatment across boundaries. They have completed work on private, public, municipal, and county lands based on assessment of watersheds and wildfire risk. Working at a landscape scale, this partnership is making meaningful progress towards landscape resiliency, fire adapted communities and making it possible for a safe, effective wildfire response.  This video highlights their work on Reservoir Hill, a highly prized forest in the middle of Pagosa Springs. Click on the image above for the video. 

Photo: University of Michigan

Seeking Remedies for the 'Socioecological Pathology' of Wildfire Risk

Current forest management policies continue to prioritize fire suppression over using fire as a tool to reduce future wildfire risk. To cure this "socioecological pathology," what's needed is a new approach that allows society to break out of "a destabilizing feedback loop in which wildfire risk increases despite policies and practices designed to reduce it," says University of Michigan researcher Paige Fischer.

As we continue the conversation around risk management, this article offers some useful tools for land management agencies to increase safety, effectiveness, and efficiencies. More here

An Interview with Pam Leschak


The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (FAC Net) recently interviewed Pam Leschak, the national WUI/FAC program manager for the U.S. Forest Service. Those of you who have been in the wildfire risk mitigation game for any time at all have probably worked with Pam and you are familiar with her passion for fire adapted communities. In this revealing interview Pam talks about the Forest Service role in helping communities becoming more fire adapted, how communities can work towards better fire adaptation, obtain funding and the realities of hard work paying off. Read full blog post here.

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

July 14, 2016 - 11 AM Webinar: Land Use Planning to Reduce Wildfire Risk: Lessons from 5 Western Cities by Dr. Kimiko Barrett, Headwaters Economics. Please share with your local city and county planners. 

July 17-20, 2016 - North American Prairie Conference—From Cemetery Prairies to National Tallgrass Prairies Illinois State University is hosting this conference, with presentations on prairie ecology, restoration, management and some innovative ideas on working lands.

September 19-22, 2016 - 2016 NASF Annual Meeting in Savannah, GA. Georgia Forestry Commission and NASF will bring together the nation's forestry and wildfire leaders for a week of business, learning and networking. 

November 14-17, 2016 - International Smoke Symposium  The IAWF and the NWCG SmoC (smoke committee) will be hosting this in-person / virtual symposium. The call for presentations is now open; submissions are due by May 16.     

November 28 - December 2, 2016 - Southwest Association for Fire Ecology Conference in Tucson, AZ.  Save the date for “Beyond Hazardous Fuels: Managing Fire for Social, Economic and Ecological Benefits,” hosted by AFE and the Southwest Fire Science Consortium. 
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:

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