May 5: Senate hearing about wildfire management

(UPDATED at 11:42 a.m. MDT, May 5, 2015)

Bob  Eisele

A video recording of this morning’s hearing by the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources about wildfires has been posted along with the formal written statements of the five witnesses. These all went up on the website much more quickly than we have seen in the past.

The video and the written statements can be seen here.

I was only able to see portions of the statements by the witnesses, and missed the following Q&A period. One part that I found interesting was what Bob Eisele, a retired Watershed and Fire Analyst with the County of San Diego said about technology. Basically Mr. Eisele, who spoke only occasionally referring to notes, said, “We need to know where the fire is”, and “We  need to know where the firefighters are”, referring to real-time tracking of the fire and firefighting resources, what I call the Holy Grail of Wildland Firefighter Safety.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tomas Tidwell predictably said, “We have the resources”, and then mentioned engines, large air tankers, and MAFFS military air tankers.

Dr. Sharon Hood, a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Montana, made an interesting presentation about how low-severity fires can help provide ponderosa pine with defenses against bark beetle attacks, and that excluding frequent fire from
the system greatly decreases resistance from bark beetle outbreaks.


(Originally published at 8 p.m. MDT, May 4, 2015)

On Tuesday, May 5 the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing “to receive testimony on the Federal government’s role in wildfire management, the impact of fires on communities, and potential improvements to be made in fire operations.”

It is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. EDT, and will be viewable on a live webcast. These hearings are recorded and can usually be replayed a day or two later.

The panel of witnesses will include:

  • Mr. Thomas Tidwell
    Chief, U.S. Forest Service
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Dr. Stephen Pyne
    Regents’ Professor & Distinguished Sustainability Scholar
    School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University
  • Dr. Sharon Hood
    Post-Doctoral Researcher, College of Forestry & Conservation
    University of Montana
  • Mr. Bruce Hallin
    Director of Water Rights and Contracts
    Salt River Project
  • Mr. Bob Eisele
    Watershed and Fire Analyst
    County of San Diego, CA – Retired

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

4 thoughts on “May 5: Senate hearing about wildfire management”

  1. Thanks for posting this Bill. Would it be possible to link the recording when it becomes available? I suspect you had planned that, but I have a prior commitment, and will be unable to watch today.

  2. Chief Tidwell impressed me with his specific knowledge of Forest Service activities. His staff has done an excellent job of briefing him for facing this Senate Committee. Bottom line… unfortunately too much work to do, too little funding to accomplish it and in spite of the Healthy Forests Act and the recent Farm Bill, still too much “red tape” to get much done in forest management as quickly as it needs to be done. Regardless, there is a dedicated Forest Service organization that is toiling endlessly to try to do it all, anyway. (hmmm, does all this sound familiar?)

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