Wednesday, August 17, 2016

BLM and Intermountain West Joint Venture Adopt New Partnership

Building on the successful plans and proven models to conserve sagebrush habitat for the over 350 species of wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV) have agreed to a partnership effort to help maintain the West's "sagebrush sea."

The five-year, up to $5 million from the BLM will be matched with partner funding to expand the capacity-building model and priority conservation practices pioneered through the Sage Grouse Initiative (to support science-based and spatially targeted practices to reduce threats to sage grouse on private working lands), by transferring the successful private lands model to this new public lands partnership.

The agreement will facilitate collaboration to accomplish on-the-ground projects such as conifer removal, fire and invasive treatments, habitat restoration, and planning and implementation of range structural improvements.  Read the full press release here

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Utah Unveils the UWRAP

The Utah Department of Natural Resources' newly developed, interactive site — — allows users to search for and zoom into particular neighborhoods or recreation areas on a statewide map to see the wildfire risk in that zone.
"It's going to change the conversation about wildfires," said Utah State Forester Brian Cottam.
The idea behind the map, Cottam said, is prevention. The site pulls in state and federal data to create a "risk assessment portal" where the public can generate a report detailing how to reduce fire danger near homes, such as by removing excess vegetation.
Read more here.

WUI Tool for Policy Makers and Land Use Planners

Those living in the Wildland-Urban Interface have both a greater risk and responsibility for living with wildland fire.  Here is a tool to help policy makers and use planners identify areas where housing units intersect with wildland areas.  Take a look:

This summer, like many summers in the U.S., the news has been full of images of housing developments wreathed in dark smoke from approaching wildfires. Fires are especially complicated to manage in wildland urban interface (WUI) areas where houses and other buildings meet up or mix with undeveloped natural areas. About 99 million people live in WUI areas of the conterminous United States in a total of 44 million houses. 

The WUI is the focus of a recently released publication, “The 2010 Wildland-Urban Interface of the Conterminous United States,” also known as the WUI Map Book. It is designed to inform national policy and local land management policies in WUI areas. The authors provide a state-by-state analysis of the WUI using color coded maps and graphics of state land cover, land ownership, wildland vegetation cover and housing density.  Organized by regions of the country, the document tells the story of each state through a two page spread.  

Find more here

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Time to Get Serious about Implementing the Cohesive Strategy


Chris Topik, Director of NA Forest Conservation with The Nature Conservancy penned an insightful blog about getting serious with the implementation of the Cohesive Strategy.  

In summary, Topik writes, "In recent years, bemoaning our severe fire seasons has become an all-too common annual lament, heard from the coffee shop to Congress." The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy gave us a common platform for addressing our nation's wildfire issues and it's time to get serious about implementation. 

Citizen engagement and education is essential if people are going to prepare for nasty fires and perform the landscape and community mitigation we know reduces the intensity of uncharacteristic fires.  Building meaningful capacity to engage in meaningful dialogue and preparation is much more cost effective than increasing firefighting once a fire takes off.  

Topik suggests that we must find a way to expand support to these grass-roots efforts that increase community, forest, water, wildlife and fire safety.  What if we can mobilize the social and political will to perform wide-scale proactive forest treatments to better inoculate our communities, forests and waters from the worst of fire's destructive effects?

We need a new wildfire paradigm - a new reality in which we stop automatically extinguishing all fires, significantly ramp up controlled burning, and engage and empower communities to help create a different, healthier and necessary new relationship with fire.  This is after all, part of the vision of the Cohesive Strategy, a nation, live with wildland fire.  

Read Topik's full blog post here

A Communications Win in Arizona

In our quest to share examples of great communications efforts within the Cohesive Strategy framework, our eyes landed on this fantastic publication in July. The Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership developed an eight-page color insert for the Arizona Daily Sun over the 4th of July weekend. Perfect timing to catch people looking through the newspaper to see what activities they can find for the holiday weekend. 

The insert is packed with examples of forest treatments that made a difference during a wildfire, great graphics to help explain healthy forests, prescribed fire, and fire adapted communities as well as easy access to more information. Click here to see the full publication.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Santa Fe National Forest Prepares to Manage Virgin Fire for Multiple Objectives

Baldy Lake, Santa Fe National Forest. Photo: USFS
There are so many great things about this press release!  First, the most obvious, the Santa Fe National Forest has decided to manage this lightning caused fire for resource benefit. Way to take advantage of an opportunity!  While Resilient Landscapes is one of the goals of the Cohesive Strategy, it has become clear that in addition to other methods of creating resiliency such as mechanical treatments and prescribed fires, the only way we are going to reach true landscape level resiliency is by also taking advantage of unplanned fires.  The Virgin Fire is providing just that opportunity.  Thank you, Mother Nature. 
Second, the Santa Fe National Forest is TALKING about this public! This continues to build trust between the agency and the community. The more the public understands, the more they are likely to engage in collaborative efforts and support restoration and resiliency projects on the landscape.    
Third, the opportunistic folks on the Santa Fe included some educational points in the press release.  They explained how lightning struck in the footprint of the Southwest Jemez Mountains Forest Restoration Project where treatments have already been designated. They also described how the low intensity fire is beneficial to the goals of reducing forest fuels, enhancing wildlife habitat, improving watershed health and protecting nearby communities. Nicely done. They took it a step further and included how they arrive at these strategic and tactical decisions - through the Wildland Fire Decision Support System.  If you knew little or nothing about wildland fire in this area, the Santa Fe National Forest just provided you with a ton of great information! This type of engagement helps communities become more fire adapted!
Fourth, they didn't leave out the smoke issue.  Fires cause smoke. Smoke causes problems, no doubt about it.  But by acknowledging this fact and offering additional information to help people make decisions, they continue to inform and educate their communities.  A little smoke now prevents a whole lot of uncontrolled smoke later from a large, catastrophic wildfire.  
The Cohesive Strategy acknowledges that while the goals of Resilient Landscapes, Fire Adapted Communities and a Safe & Effective Wildfire Response are extremely important, it's how we get there - through building relationships, trust and true collaboration - that will yield success!

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Power of Embers

ICYMI...Here is the link to NFPA's Expert Virtual Workshop from July 27, 2106.  The Power of Embers with Dr. Steve Quarles.  It's a full hour but worth watching and sharing in your communities with all your stakeholders.  Valuable education piece for communities with homes in the wildland urban interface.