Monday, October 30, 2017
|Mapped potential escape routes. Photo: Michael Campbell|
Before battling the flames, firefighters identify areas where they can retreat, and designate the best escape routes to get from the fire line to those safety zones. Currently firefighters make these decisions on the ground, using expert knowledge of fire behavior and assessing their ability to traverse a landscape. Recently, a University of Utah-led study has developed a mapping tool that coud one day help fire crews make crucial safety decisions with and eagle's eye view.
The new study is the first attempt to map escape routes for wildland firefighters from an aerial perspective. The researchers used Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to analyze terrain slop, ground surface roughness and vegetation density in a fire-prone region of Utah. The study also addressed how each landscape condition impeded a person's ability to travel.
|The study used volunteers to time themselves walking along paths that the researchers designed to capture a variety of slopes, ground surface roughness, and vegetation densities. Photo: Michael Campbell.|
"Firefighters have a great sense for interactions between fire and landscape conditions. We hope to offer them an extra tool using information collected on a broad scale," says lead author Michael Campbell, doctoral candidate in the University of Utah's Department of Geography.
By plugging in the effect of slope, ground surface roughness and vegetation density on travel rates into a route-finding algorithm, Campbell successfully identified the most efficient routes for thousands of simulations.
Currently, firefighters base their decisions on ground-level information using fire safety protocols such as the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG). These guidelines recommend avoiding steep slopes, dense vegetation and rough ground when designating an escape route.
"Using LiDAR information, we were able to turn it from these subjective judgement calls into something more robust and quantitative," adds Campbell.
The Cohesive Strategy supports the use of emerging technology like this that can help make the firefighting effort safer, more efficient and more effective.
Karuk Tribe Picks Up $100k PG&E Climate Change Grant to Fund Traditional, Prescribed-Burn Forest Management
|PG&E representatives present the Karuk Tribe with a $100,000 grant. Photo: Karuk Tribe.|
The Karuk Tribe is one of two recipients of PG&E’s Better Together Resilient Communities grants – a program created to support local initiatives to build greater climate resilience throughout Northern and Central California.
"We have used fire as a management tool since the beginning of time, but in recent decades, the Forest Service has suppressed nearly all fire activity with disastrous results. Now our traditional knowledge is informing a new approach to forest management that uses fire to reduce fuel loads, improve watershed health, and reduce the risk of catastrophic fire. We welcome PG&E as a partner in this effort," remarked long time member of Cohesive Strategy's Western Region and Karuk Ecocultural Revitalization Director Bill Tripp.
The goals of the Karuk project include:The Cohesive Strategy supports the use of traditional ecological knowledge in fire and land management.
Find more information on the Karuk projects and PG&E's support here.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
In an interesting twist on a common real estate event, Wildfire Partners in Boulder County, Colorado has planned a Tour of Homes to showcase homeowner wildfire mitigation work. On Saturday, September 30th, the tour will allow people to visit participating properties in their community and check out practical wildfire mitigation measures firsthand.
Sixteen homes will be featured on the tour. These homeowners have participated in an on-site assessment with a wildfire mitigation specialist and performed significant mitigation to receive their Wildfire Partners certificates.
This is a fantastic outreach event by Wildfire Partners, Boulder County's wildfire mitigation organization.
Read more about the event here.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
|Beautiful smokey haze from his own prescribed fire. Photo: Joel Wolfson.|
Joel Wolfson and his wife Barb live in northern Arizona where wildland fire is a frequent visitor. Following a too-close-to-home fire and evacuation experience, the Wolfsons knew they were ready to use prescribed fire on their property to reduce the risk of future high intensity fires. Mr. Wolfson is an accomplished photographer and teacher and also knew that he wanted to photograph the experience.
|More wildlife visit the burned area now to munch on the fresh grass. Photo: Joel Wolfson.|
Barb Wolfson is a fire ecologist and was in complete agreement of the exercise, knowing the blackened areas would regenerate naturally and improve the health and wildlife habitat of the forest around their home.
The result is a beautiful juxtaposition of nature and controlled fire as well as the subsequent benefits to the landscape and protection of the Wolfson home. Take a look at Mr. Wolfson's blog post to see the great photography and read his story (complete with information about which lenses he used in his photographs of the experience).
Read blog post here.
Thinning, mowing, and prescribed burning completed earlier this year has helped firefighters battle the Milli Fire and protect private properties near Sisters, Oregon.
The Milli Fire is still burning (60% containment) but the flanks of the fire nearest the community were easier to defend and hold thanks to the restoration efforts of the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project (DCFP).
One of the original awardees of funding under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act (2009), the DCFP has been successful at bringing a diverse group of stakeholders together to work through a variety of environmental and forest health issues to offer practical, beneficial solutions to the forest issues in Central Oregon. This has resulted in multiple forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction projects carried out by the Deschutes National Forest.
In this case, projects were implemented close to the homes and structures just west of Sisters, Oregon on federal land. And now, less than a year later when threatened by wildfire, the landscape did not provide the thick vegetation needed to sustain and further a high intensity fire. A carefully planned and carried out fuels reduction project adjacent to private property allowed firefighters to stop the advancing fire and protect the homes nearby.
The Cohesive Strategy strongly encourages these types of collaborative efforts that lead to smart, on-the-ground projects on landscapes and around communities that have to live with wildfire.
Click on the video above for the story and here for more information on the DCFP.
Monday, September 11, 2017
|Teaching 6th graders about fire ecology and forest health. Photo: Talking Talons Youth Leadership|
Over the past few months, educators from Talking Talons Youth Leadership have been delivering a forest and fire program to middle and elementary school students across the Grants, Zuni and Gallup school districts in western New Mexico.
The program was created with funding from a Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) grant awarded to the Cibola National Forest and in partnership with the Forest Stewards Guild.
Talking Talons Youth Leadership works with two retired science teachers who are well-versed in the delivery of a science-based curriculum. They designed the program to teach local youth about fire adapted ecosystems and fire adapted communities, while fostering interest and understanding of the Zuni CFLRP. The program also discusses land management strategies in the Zuni Mountains, as well as the structure of Cibola National Forest and other agencies involved in the Zuni CFLRP.
The Cohesive Strategy encourages these creative approaches to community outreach that build a greater understanding of our forests and how they can be managed.
Read more here.