Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A "New Normal" in the Wildfire Business

Firefighters are facing a "new normal" in wildfire behavior these days.  Last week hundreds of firefighters, foresters and fire and land managers met in Reno, Nevada to attend the 2015 Wildland Urban Interface Conference.  

Elizabeth Harball hits the highlights in her article here.  

Rim Fire in the Sierra Nevada, in California.  Source:  Mike McMillan, USFS
Presenters at the conference shared a variety of successes and lessons learned but the facts remain:  

  • Fire seasons are longer and more extreme - people are dying; and homes, communities and natural resources are burning up
  • The cost of suppression continues to increase and is bankrupting other critical programs and services
  • Development continues into wildland areas
  • The general public lacks understanding of the risk of wildfire
  • Individuals and communities are not prepared for wildfire 
  • Post-fire effects such as flooding and water quality issues are increasingly severe

While this list is not complete, it sure provided a solid platform for the dialogue at the conference. We simply can no longer do business as usual.  The conference was organized around this grim realization and a trust that the principles of the Cohesive Strategy provide a framework for all of us to work together to make improvements in each area of the list above.  

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