Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Three New Cohesive Strategy Working Groups

At our fall 2018 strategic planning meeting, members of the Western Regional Strategy Committee (WRSC) agreed to launch three work groups to address significant issues surfacing across the West. The WRSC is in a unique position as convener, facilitator and influencer that can assist in connecting stakeholders, delivering information, pushing messages and elevating issues to the appropriate levels.  These new groups will not take away from our regular attention to all things Cohesive Strategy; they will allow for a deeper dive and specific action by stakeholders around each set of diverse issues. 

Post Fire Impacts Working Group
As a result of the many conversations occurring around the West regarding post fire impacts and recovery, this group will examine the issues and challenges experienced by stakeholders and determine the appropriate engagement points for the Regional Strategy Committee to facilitate positive moment towards better impact and recovery outcomes. The group is currently surveying the wide array of issues, impacts and preparedness solutions in play across the West and will be in attendance at the After the Flames Conference in early April. At a minimum the group will gather and develop a repository of information from those who are currently investing in preparedness and recovery solutions, and share information with partners and the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC). If you are interested in participating in this working group or including a member of your staff, please contact Kate Lighthall.  

Improving Wildfire Response Working Group
Our charge as a Regional Strategy Committee is to facilitate implementation of the Cohesive Strategy. It's been a fairly easy lift to act as a convener/influencer around the goals of Fire Adapted Communities and Resilient Landscapes. We have only some engagement however around the strategic goal of a Safe and Effective, Risk-Based Wildfire Response. While the nation's wildfire response system is ranked at the top in the world, there are still areas that can benefit from the principles and management options outlined in the Cohesive Strategy. Wildfires continue to kill firefighters each year, threaten communities and landscapes. There are multiple opportunities for risk-based approaches. This group is looking closely at the stressors that are currently inhibiting a safe and effective, risk-based wildfire response. We know we have to strategize "outside the box" because "business as usual" is leading to significant issues. We've identified a number of issues so far and will be having rich, candid dialogue at the work group level. We are looking forward to trying out some of the solutions and recommendations within our region and elevating specific issues and recommendations to WFLC agencies that can help improve the current response scenarios. Please contact Kate Lighthall if you or your staff have an interest in working with this group.

Increasing the Use of Prescribed Fire Working Group
Just the mention of creating this group stirred lots of interest.  While prescribed fire is only one of the valuable tools in the resilient landscape toolbox, there is a belief across the region is that it is not used enough or at a scale that can improve resiliency for communities and landscapes. While there are many reasons for this, we believe there are opportunities for learning and engagement among practitioners, communities, air quality professionals, the EPA, and others that can lead to greater understanding and actions towards an increased use of prescribed fire where it is appropriate. As with the other two working groups, this group will collect, store and share information about what's working and what's not at national, regional, state and local levels, communicate appropriate messages and make recommendations for improvements. Please contact Kate Lighthall if you or your staff have an interest in working with this group.  

Stay tuned for progress reports!  


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