Newsletter #48

January 24, 2017


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:

Pile burning is an option for participants to "pay" their commitment under the new policy.  Photo: John Schmidt.

Utah Shifting its Wildfire Strategy from Reactive to Proactive with New Wildland Fire Policy

Utah's legislature passed a comprehensive wildland fire policy that shifts the lead for prevention and risk reduction to local governments. The state will pay the costs of large, extended attack fires in exchange for local governments implementing prevention, preparedness and mitigation actions that reduce the risk and cost of wildland fire over the long-term. The policy was developed collaboratively, and allows city, county and fire district participants to "opt in" to a five-year agreement with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. Participants must agree to initial attack on fires, the completion and regular updating of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, and a "commitment" to be met by prevention, preparedness or mitigation work. More here


IAWF Working for a Higher Standard

Tom Zimmerman, President of the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF), looks towards a future where fire intensity and severity will continue to increase, vegetation and fuel complexes will continue to change, populations and communities will continue to expand, and climate change will magnify these issues. Wildland fire management is inextricably bound to land and resource management, he explains. Future actions founded on an over-reliance on past experience will cause weakening in success and land management efficiency; ecological, social and management concerns will not be appeased through the use of a single wildfire response.

As the Cohesive Strategy insists, proactive measures are necessary. Expanded ecological knowledge, along with other scientific and technological advancements, must be used in the shaping of management activities. Policy makers, he suggests, must be actively engaged and support program development. The IAWF is the professional association for this discipline and is actively seeking to set the standard in wildland fire management, bringing science, best practices and the best people together to shape the future. Read more from Tom Zimmerman here
The 400,000 acre Anderson Creek Fire in Kansas and Oklahoma. March 2016.  Photo: Kansas Forest Service.

Leveraging Partnerships for $2 Million in Kansas

The Anderson Creek Fire burned almost 400,000 acres (620 square miles) in Kansas and Oklahoma last March, consumed 600 head of cattle, 16 homes, 25 structures and countless miles of fencing. Following an assessment of the damage and documenting the need for a proactive approach to prevent similar future losses, the Barber County Conservation District partnered with the Kansas Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for $2 million targeting prescribed grazing, woody residue treatment, brush management, fire breaks, weed control and prescribed burning. The Cohesive Strategy promotes this kind of partnership leveraging to improve the resiliency of the landscape while achieving rangeland management goals. More here

Firefighters from the Stonewall Fire Protection District help thin the forest at North Lake State Wildlife Area.
Photo: Colorado State Forest Service


From CWPP Recommendation to
Implementation on the Ground

Through a project that stemmed from a 2014 Community Wildfire Protection Plan, firefighters from the Stonewall Fire Protection District have been hand-thinning the forest at North Lake State Wildlife Area in Colorado by removing unhealthy, suppressed and dying trees, as well as trees in overly dense stands. The main goal of the project is to protect the water quality of the North Fork of the Purgatoire River watershed, which supplies water to Trinidad and almost 85 percent of Las Animas County residents. This project highlights a number of Cohesive Strategy behaviors including a strong Community Wildfire Protection Plan; restoring resilient landscapes to protect watersheds, communities and future firefighting efforts; collaborating with a diverse stakeholder group to get this project from a recommended action to implementation on the ground; and continued communication with the local public to help them understand what living with wildland fire is all about.  More here


USAA Adds New Mexico and Utah
for Homeowner Discounts  

Up to seven states now, USAA added New Mexico and Utah with approved filings to give homeowners insurance discounts to members living in communities recognized by the Firewise Communities/USA program. The Cohesive Strategy encourages incentives to help increase participation in wildland fire mitigation programs.

This discount applies to policies in California, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico and Utah. More

Alva, Crook County, Wyoming. Photo: Landwatch. 

Wyoming Nets $1.4 Million for Collaborative, Cross-Boundary Projects

The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced their 2017 investment of $1.4 million for two collaborative, cross-boundary projects in northeastern Wyoming. The Northeast Wyoming Forest Resiliency Project was awarded $1,285,540 to improve forest and rangeland health and resiliency, decrease wildfire risk and enhance wildlife habitat and the Northeastern Wyoming Sage-Grouse Habitat Enhancement project will receive $200,000 to help expand conservation efforts with a focus on restoring sage-grouse habitat while maintaining viable agricultural operations. Both projects will build on existing collaborative efforts among landowners, state and federal agencies, academia and other conservation organizations working in northeast Wyoming. These types of public-private partnerships are strongly supported by the Cohesive Strategy because the increased benefits achieved by working collaboratively across boundaries.  More here

The Colorado-based Wildfire Research group is an interdisciplinary team of experts who use scientific data to make fire-prone communities safer. Photo: WiRē.

Using Science to Help Communities Address Risk

The Colorado-based Wildfire Research (WiRē) group helps to make fire-prone communities safer by applying scientific data to tailor wildfire education and outreach programs to better meet local needs, beliefs and attitudes. By tackling assumptions about what's happening in fire-prone communities, the WiRē group assists by gathering data and providing insights that allow wildfire education and outreach programs to do their work in ways that are informed by science. The Cohesive Strategy is firmly based in sound science and strongly supports implementation efforts to achieve its three goals that are rooted in science.


Cohesive Strategy Implementation and Science

At the beginning and throughout all stages of planning and development of the national strategy, science was at the center of both the vision statement and goals. Continued advancement and accomplishment of Cohesive Strategy goals hinge on reinforcing the importance of science in implementation activities and improving mechanisms to facilitate science integration with implementation. Please save the date for this valuable workshop!  Call for papers has been extended.  More information here

Workshop Objectives:

  1. Provide clear understanding of the importance and critical role of science in all Cohesive Strategy planning and implementation. 
  2. Reinforce that the focus of the Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy implementation is "all hands, all lands" and that seamless access to the best available and correct science is vital to success at every level and every action.
  3. Identify examples and opportunities where implementation (current and planned) is informed by the "right" science and information.
  4. Identify processes to ensure science integration in all planning and implementation activities and identify future research needs in support of Cohesive Strategy implementation. 
  5. Utilize the Workshop format to develop recommendations for continuing actions on this subject.

Click on photo to bring up video.

Fire Department Learning Exchange
is a Mutually Beneficial Tool


The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network is big on learning. From each other. Big on the power of continued learning from the sharing and engagement of partners, neighbors, friends and allies facing similar challenges around wildland fire. The goal?  Better fire outcomes and learning to live with wildland fire. Very Cohesive Strategy.  

In this video, the FAC Learning Network documents the Fire Department Exchange between departments in Boise, Idaho and Austin, Texas.  Take a look.  

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

January 26, 2017 - Restoring Fire's Role in Fire Adapted Communities Webinar, Noon Mountain Time. Justice Jones (Austin Fire Department) will discuss the use of prescribed fire in the wildland-urban interface in Texas in this Southern Fire Exchange webinar. 
February 16, 2017 -
 A Four-Step Approach to Planning for Wildfire in the WUI.
Webinar, Noon Mountain Time.  Stephen R. Miller will be the presenter in the first webinar in the California Fire Science Consortium’s 2017 WUI Webinar series. 

March 1-2, 2017 - Collaboration: Evolution and Innovation.  Riverside Hotel, Boise, ID. This annual event brings together leaders from the timber industry, local government, conservation organizations, community groups, and land management agencies from across the state.  The collaborative groups in Idaho continue to evolve and innovate in their efforts to restore forests at a landscape scale.  The Partners have structured this workshop to review progress to date and design strategies to sustain effective performance of consensus based collaboration. Registration open now. 

March 29-30, 2017 - 2nd Annual Wildland-Urban Interface and Firewise Summit: Living with Wildfire in Arizona.  Doubletree by Hilton in Flagstaff, AZ.  This 2-day summit will equip the homeowner as well as fire departments and wildland firefighters with information and actions they can take to reduce loss and increase safety in their community. Topics include fire ecology, hazard fuel reduction grants, insurance issues, risk assessments, Fire Adapted Communities, Ready, Set, Go!, Firewise principles, emergency management, forest health, and various programs to help the homeowner and community prepare for wildland fire. 

March 30 - April 1, 2017 - New Mexico Wildland Urban Interface Summit.  Sheraton Airport Hotel in Albuquerque, NM.  It is becoming essential for fire management professionals, emergency responders, local government officials, and residents to partner and increase wildfire preparedness so that future fires are not absolute devastations. 

April 19-21, 2017 - Colorado Wildland Fire Conference.  Pueblo, CO. The conference theme is “Fire Adapted Communities: Moving from Awareness to Action, Messaging to Mitigation, & Words to Work.” Registration is now open.
April 25-27, 2017 - National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop All Hands, All Lands: Implementation Rooted in Science.  Reno, NV.  A workshop intended for all stakeholders interested in applying sound science to the implementation of the Cohesive Strategy. 
May 10-12, 2017 - Klamath Fire Ecology Symposium.  Orleans, CA. Every three years, land managers, scientists, tribes, conservationists and community members gather to discuss fire management, history and ecology in the Klamath Mountains and beyond. Nowhere else in the country are the social, cultural, and ecological realities of fire discussed with such candor and connection to place. For more info,
November 28 - Dec 2, 2017 - AFE International Fire Congress.  Orlando, FL. The Association for Fire Ecology (AFE) and Southern Fire Exchange will be co-hosting “Fire Vision 20/20: A 20 Year Reflection and Look into the Future.”
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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