Secretary Jewell announces $10 million for projects to increase wildfire resilience

The funding announced today will support the second year of work for these projects.

Secretary Sally Jewell
Secretary Sally Jewell at the announcement Monday. Photo by Tami A. Heilemann.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced $10 million in funding to help increase the resiliency of critical landscapes across the country to better mitigate the impacts of wildfire and climate change.

The Wildland Fire Resilient Landscapes Program is a new approach to achieve fire resiliency and help restore public lands nationwide through multi-year investments in designated landscapes. Launched last year, the program incorporates goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and Secretarial Order 3336, Rangeland Fire Prevention, Management, and Restoration, by ensuring that projects emphasize a high level of collaboration with partners, landscape-scale planning across multiple jurisdictions, lessen the risk from catastrophic wildfire, and enhance the protection of critical natural resources and watersheds.

“These projects will protect the nation’s diverse landscapes making them more resilient to wildfire for future generations; with help from our partners who also recognize that this challenge is too great for any one organization to tackle on its own,” Secretary Jewell said. “The funding restores iconic landscapes and vital watersheds, reduces fuels and controls invasive species to re-establish native vegetation, while reducing the risks to the public and our firefighters who respond to wildland fires.”

“These projects emphasize collaborative landscape-scale planning to reduce the risk from catastrophic wildfire while enhancing the protection of watersheds and critical culture and natural resources,” said Kris Sarri, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Policy, Management and Budget. “The work being done provides valuable insights on making landscapes resilient to wildfire. The benefits of the program are already being realized, and the President’s budget requests $30 million to help us expand this program to more states.”

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Red Flag Warnings, May 24, 2016

Red Flag Warnings May 24, 2016

The National Weather service has posted Red Flag Warnings or Fire Weather Watches for areas in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Michigan.

The maps were current as of 1:09 p.m. MDT on Tuesday. Red Flag Warnings can change throughout the day as the National Weather Service offices around the country update and revise their forecasts and maps. For the most current data visit this NWS site.

Kid’s assumptions about firefighters, doctors, and pilots

Arizona: Coconino National Forest managing two less than full suppression fires

(Originally published at 9:48 a.m. MDT May 24, 2016)

Map Cowboy Mormon Fires
Map showing heat detected by a satellite on the Cowboy and Mormon Fires south of Flagstaff, Arizona. The brown and red dots represent heat during the 24 hours ending at 3:07 a.m. MDT May 24, 2016.

The Coconino National Forest is managing two lightning-caused fires south of Flagstaff, Arizona. Named the Cowboy and Mormon Fires, they were reported on May 17 and 15, respectively. The Forest management staff has decided that they will use a less than full suppression strategy for both.

The maximum management area (MMA) for the Cowboy Fire, 8 miles south of Flagstaff, is 3,425 acres, with about four miles of the possible perimeter being very close to Interstate 17. The fire has been very active over the last 24 hours. The U.S. Forest Service reported on Monday that the fire had burned 5 acres, but using recent satellite data our very unofficial calculations show that it has burned approximately 400 acres.

Maximum Management Area Cowboy Fire
Maximum Management Area for the Cowboy Fire. The USFS expects the fire will not exceed this area. USFS.

Forest Service officials intend to limit the Mormon Fire, 16 miles southeast of Flagstaff, to 11,664 acres. It has also been active in the last 24 hours but not as much as the Cowboy Fire. The agency reports that as of Monday the fire had burned 350 acres.

Maximum Management Area Mormon Fire
Maximum Management Area for the Mormon Fire. The USFS expects the fire will not exceed this area. USFS.

It will be interesting to see how the partially greened-up vegetation on these fires at 7,000 feet elevation will be affected by the strong southwest winds that are predicted for the rest of this week. On Tuesday the wind forecast is 24 mph gusting to 39, along with a relative humidity of 24 percent and a temperature of 61 degrees. Wednesday through Sunday the forecast calls for winds of 12 to 18 mph gusting at 20 to 30 mph. There is very little chance of rain this week.

Cowboy Fire
Cowboy Fire as seen from Lake Mary, May 23, 2016. USFS photo by Brady Smith

Cowboy fire

California: Wheatland Fire near Lake View Terrace

Above: the approximate location of the Wheatland Fire near Lake View Terrace in southern California.

A brush fire that has blackened about 183 acres put up an impressive amount of smoke today. The fire broke out in mid-afternoon on Monday and by evening had slowed considerably. Fire officials called it 35 percent contained at 6 p.m.

The Wheatland Fire is north of the 210 freeway in the Lake View Terrace area above Wheatland Avenue in southern California. It burned north away from homes until its progress was impeded by a deepening marine layer and by ridgelines, making it feasible for aircraft to drop water and retardant in those areas, assisting firefighters on the ground and slowing the fire.

Canada requests 10 crews from the U.S. for Fort McMurray Fire

Canada asked the United States for 200 firefighters.

Canada has requested 10 hand crews from the United States to assist with the huge wildfire at Fort McMurray, the Horse River Fire, in Alberta. A spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, Kaari Carpenter, said the personnel have been asked to arrive on Wednesday, May 25. The National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC) is coordinating with several Geographic Areas hoping to find ten 20-person crews, on which all firefighters have passports.

Other resources that have been requested are two Interagency Resource Representatives (IARR) to support efforts in the Fort McMurray area, and one Technical Specialist (THSP) to serve as International Liaison for NICC at the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

map Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission (NFFPC)
Map of state & provinces within the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission

We are working on confirming that an incident management team (IMT) comprised of both Canadians and Americans was mobilized to the Fort McMurray Fire about a week ago. The Northeastern Forest Fire Protection compact has built an IMT consisting of both Canadian Province members and American members and successfully mobilized them across Compact lines to Alberta. As far as we know this is the first time in the history of the compacts that an IMT team has crossed INTER-compact lines to manage international fires.

The map of the Fort McMurray Fire (Horse River Fire) below shows that it has been active over the last 24 hours on the north and east sides. It has burned 523,000 hectares (1.3 million acres or 2019 square miles).

Map Ft McMurray Fire
Map of the Fort McMurray Fire (Horse River Fire). The purple line was the approximate perimeter the morning of May 18, 2016. The dots represent heat detected by a satellite within the last 24 hours, with the most recent, as late as 3:15 p.m. MDT May 23, 2016. Click on the map to see a larger version.

Our main article about the Fort McMurray Fire.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Chris and others.