The announcement last week that the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC), at their March 16-17 meeting agreed to establish a blueprint for a “Cohesive Wildfire Management Strategy” made us curious for more details. The announcement was rather vague, provided little real information about the initiative, and was easily confused with the “10-Year Comprehensive Strategy Implementation Plan” developed in 2002.
It turns out that the federal land management agencies were required to develop the Cohesive Strategy by the 2009 FLAME Act, with a deadline of October 30, 2010. The FLAME Act was primarily known for setting up a procedure for funding the costs of large catastrophic-type fires while also serving as a reserve when funds available in the regular suppression account are exhausted.
HSToday has more information:
The Flame Act of 2009 requires the Forest Service and Department of Interior to submit to Congress a report that contains a cohesive wildfire management strategy consistent with recommendations in recent General Accountability Office (GAO) reports regarding management strategies. Following its formal approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Interior by October 2010, the Cohesive Wildfire Management Strategy is to be revised at least once during each five year period to address any changes with respect to landscape, vegetation, climate, and weather conditions.
According to the legislation the Cohesive Strategy is required to provide for the identification of the most cost effective means for allocating fire management budget resources. This includes the reinvestment in non-fire programs by the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture, employing the appropriate management response to wildfire, assessing the level of risk to communities, allocation of hazardous fuels reduction funds based on the priority of hazardous fuels reduction projects, and assessing the impacts of climate change on the frequency and impact of wildfire.
In addition, the Congressional requirements hold that the strategy meet GAO standards for addressing cost effectiveness of suppression and mitigation, the efficiency of treatments for fuels and Fire Adapted Communities and establishment of meaningful performance measures.