Mark Rey: states should pay for suppression in roadless areas

Mark Rey, the ex-timber industry lobbyist who is now the Undersecretary of Agriculture overseeing the US Forest Service, has invited states to give input on where roads should be built in national forests. Now he is saying that if the states do not want roads, the states should have to pay the increased costs for fire suppression.

The state of California recently filed a lawsuit against the Forest Service for adopting a policy that would allow increased road building in the four southern California national forests and drilling for oil in areas of the Los Padres National Forest.

More information can be found at the Modesto Bee.

Patrick Henning, RIP

Patrick HenningFrom Wildlandfire.com:

Patrick Henning, a Fire Apprentice on the Trabuco RD – Cleveland NF, was killed in a single-vehicle accident last Friday evening (Feb. 29) on his way home from work. He was member of the El Cariso Hotshots this past season and currently worked on the district fuels crew. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Patrick’s family and friends during this difficult time. He will be missed !!!

and:

He was recognized by emergency workers because of his El Cariso Hot Shot shirt, green nomex pants and whites boots he had on.

and:

ORC T43 responded to and extricated USFS Firefighter Patrick Henning after his unfortunate passing as result of a single vehicle traffic accident. He was treated with the full respect of a fallen brother. The picture included is all that needs to be said.

and

Patrick Henning
Patrick Henning

Services for Pat Henning will be at Ascension Cemetery, 24754 Trabuco Rd., Lake Forest, CA at 1:00 pm Saturday March 8.

More information about his life, his memorial service, and the funeral can be found on the Pat Henning memorial web site.

Our condolences to Pat’s family, and his extended family. I know the El Cariso Hot Shots must be stunned by this. Some comfort is no doubt obtained by the respectful way the firefighters from the Orange County Fire Authority treated him– as a fallen brother. I didn’t know Pat, but I will never forget the picture of him being carried up the hill through the field of lupine flowers, or him, now. From an El Cariso graduate…Rest In Peace, Pat.

Photo is from the PatrickHenning.com memorial web site.

Aldo Leopold died fighting a vegetation fire

Aldo LeopoldYou learn something new every day. Aldo Leopold, considered to be the father of wildlife management, died from a heart attack while fighting a vegetation fire near his house. There are conflicting reports about when, but it was either 1947 or 1948.

Here is the account, according to the Des Moines Register:

On a warm spring weekend in April of 1947 he wrapped up his Madison business early and went with Estella and his daughter, Estella Jr. to the Shack. After breakfast on April 21, they smelled smoke and realized one wing of a brush fire was headed to the pines. The fire rapidly moved to a nearby marsh. Pleas for help by Estella to the local fire department went unheeded. Aldo, while fighting the grass fire, apparently suffered a massive heart attack. By the time he was found, he was dead.

The rest of the above article is worth reading too. It covers his early career working for the US Forest Service out of Albuquerque, getting lost in a blizzard, becoming a professor of game management, and his work at the Forest Products Laboratory at Madison, Wisconsin.

More about Leopold from Wikipedia:

Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887April 21, 1948) was a United States ecologist, forester, and environmentalist. He was influential in the development of modern environmental ethics and in the movement for wilderness preservation. Aldo Leopold is considered to be the father of wildlife management in the United States and was a life-long fisherman and hunter. Leopold died in 1948 from a heart attack, while fighting a brush fire on a neighbor’s farm.

Appropriate Management Response in Montana

The Clark Fork Chronicle has a story about a debate going on in Montana about the role of the US Forest Service on interface fires. Here is an excerpt.

U.S. Forest Service officials will not formally respond to recommendations that Montana fire chiefs offered last month to the legislature’s interim study committee. But officials emphasized to the Chronicle that the protection of homes and outbuildings–structure protection–remains near the very top of firefighters’ priorities.

The top priority, always, is life safety–the safety of firefighters and the public, explained Chuck Stanich, the fire management officer for the Lolo National Forest.

“Life safety we hold in highest regard on every fire, every time, everywhere,” Chuck said. “Once we take care of that, then we go to the next priority.”

The next priorities are typically protecting the community’s “values at risk,” which usually include structures, and other cultural and natural resources, such as watersheds.

Those objectives and priorities are established in discussions long before the first start of the fire season, documented in formal plans and agreements, and communicated across a wide range of federal, state, and local firefighting partners, Chuck explained.

Frenchtown Fire’s Scott Waldron appeared in Helena earlier this month to present the state fire chiefs’ report, and offered his perspective on the Black Cat Fire in response to the committee’s questions. He alleged that Forest Service firefighters were not allowed to engage in structure protection, and testified that the agency’s policy of “Appropriate Management Response” could endanger communities.

Without directly addressing Waldron’s statements, Forest Service officials said they hoped to clear up any possible misconceptions about Forest Service policy.

Scottsdale, 2-day exercise, 25 fire agencies

KPHO.com has the story:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — More than 25 statewide fire agencies, fearing an active wildfire season, are taking part in a major training exercise at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Scottsdale.

They are learning how to work together to protect the land, homes and lives when the brush fire season starts in mid-April.

Firefighters said they believe that the aggressive growth of desert grasses triggered by soaking winter rains will spell danger once the vegetation dries out in hotter weather.

“We’re expecting a pretty active desert fire season,” said Mike Guardado, one of the firefighters involving in the training. “We’re getting to know each other and getting to know each other’s equipment.”

Guardado spent four years fighting fires for the U.S. Forest Service. He said he knows the dangers and difficulties when flames meet dry brush.

“It’s pretty challenging,” he said. “It can be frightening at times, especially working with hand tools when there’s no water around.”

While crews are training to protect homes and land, they’re also learning to protect themselves.

Last year, crews across the state battled 1,926 wildfires devouring 63,908 acres, according to the Arizona State Forestry Division. That was a dramatic decrease from the 3,080 wildfires seen in 2006 that burned more than 152,000 acres.

The two-day training event, which ends Thursday, is an effort by the Scottsdale Fire Department and the Central Arizona Wildland Response Team.

The team is a consortium of approximately 15 fire agencies in central Arizona that participate in state and nationwide wildland fire response.