Cohesive Strategy Workshop registration opens

COHESIVE STRATEGY WORKSHOP

In 2017 the first Cohesive Strategy Workshop in Reno, Nevada featured the theme of All Hands All Lands: Implementation Rooted in Science. It focused on the Cohesive Strategy — what it meant then and what early success looked like. Presentations and discussions emphasized the role of science in supporting the Cohesive Strategy and identified processes to ensure the integration of science in all planning for wildland fire management.

The Cohesive Strategy stands as the framework by which all stakeholders can address barriers and identify solutions for complex wildland fire issues.

The Cohesive Strategy Addendum Update [PDF] was released earlier this year and examines critical emphasis areas and implementation challenges that either were not addressed then or have surfaced in the 10 years since the original Cohesive Strategy framework.

This workshop will gather the collective voice of attendees to identify solutions and the issues that keep us from implementing the Cohesive Strategy at scale. The Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) will pursue these actions after the Workshop to help overcome identified barriers and support implementation of the Cohesive Strategy.

Registration for the 2024 Workshop in Atlantic City includes:

        • All on-site presentations and discussion, plus refreshments. There will be no virtual presentations.
        • Access to all workshop sessions (for full registration) or the session(s) you attend (for 1 or 2 days of registration).

Field Tour:  New Jersey Pine Barrens

Wednesday, September 18 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Field tour, transportation, and lunch included in your registration fee.

Pinelands Alliance
   PinelandsAlliance.org

The New Jersey Pine Barrens field tour will highlight the cooperation of multiple agencies in New Jersey to support goals and themes of the Cohesive Strategy. The tour includes stops at Batsto Historic Village, the U.S. Forest Service Silas Little Experimental Forest, New Jersey Forest Fire Service Coyle Field Airbase, and the Roosevelt City Fire-Adapted Community and firebreak project.

Special IAWF Member and Student rates are available.
Early-bird discounts for full workshop registrations before August 15.

Cohesive Strategy workshop registration fees

⏩  Register here  ⏪ 

Scholarships available:

IAWF offers need-based travel and registration scholarships to attend the workshop, to provide opportunity for those who may not be able to attend because of the cost. We hope to increase participation of underrepresented communities and geographic areas for networking and peer learning.

Applications will be accepted continuously until the workshop; we will begin reviewing applications and making awards on June 15. It includes free registration and/or $500 USD for travel expenses.
⏩  Submit a scholarship application  ⏪

If you are selected, we will email your instructions on registering for the workshop, and you will receive travel reimbursement when you arrive at the workshop.

Questions about the workshop or
about registration?  CONTACT MIKEL:

workshop info

 

 

Workshop registration is
available online [HERE].

 

Frank Carroll stirs up Lake Tahoe

“The Forest Service has no authority to let fires burn millions of acres — misappropriating tax dollars and recklessly destroying our natural resources. It’s an inverse condemnation of private property and wanton destruction of public resources, pure and simple.” ~ Frank Carroll

Agitator Frank Carroll, whom Dana Tibbitts with the Nevada Globe refers to as a “Chief Forester,” is an active part of this “discussion” in the Tahoe Basin and in New Mexico and other states, advising forest owners who hire him and assisting people in suing the Forest Service over losses resulting from escaped prescribed fires or managed fires that burned more acreage than Carroll thinks they should have. In her report, Tibbitts quotes anonymous sources to claim that FS Chief Randy Moore’s “Burn Back Better” letter (the annual fire-related “letter of intent”) has “caused a firestorm among firefighters and Forest Service veterans nationwide.”

Some of Tibbitts’ anonymous sources are associated with the “National Wildfire Institute,” founded by Bruce Courtright (retired FS Deputy Chief for Management Improvement) and Michael Rains — who at one time directed the USFS Forest Products Lab. Char Miller in the Los Angeles Times refers to the group as “a suppression-friendly bloc of retired Forest Service officials,” but they don’t seem to have a website or any publicly visible managers or founders besides Rains and Courtright.

Some other more widely respected retired fire experts disagree, and they’ve written here before on this topic, citing the founder of the U.S. Forest Service Gifford Pinchot. “The debate within the agency defies permanent resolution,” writes Char Miller,”not least because deference to political exigencies is baked into the Forest Service’s DNA. For that, we can thank, or blame, Pinchot.”

Miller is a senior fellow of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, and a fellow with the Forest History Society. “In an 1899 article in National Geographic,” he explains, “Pinchot clearly detailed wildfire’s essential role in regenerating forests in the South and mountainous West. But despite this robust ecological evidence, it would be fire’s bad optics that drove his pitch for establishing the Forest Service.” As per the agency’s first manual: “Probably the greatest single benefit derived by the community and the nation from forest reserves is insurance against destruction of property, timber resources, and water supply by fire.”

Opinion: The burning debate — manage forest fires or suppress them?

Carroll and his cohorts, though, claim that the USFS “just gave firefighters license to burn millions of acres of forest and rangelands with zero commitment to putting the fires out.”

Tahoe-Douglas Fire Chief and head of the Northern Nevada Fire Chiefs Association Scott Lindgren said, “The latest forecast and guidance from the Chief is so unhinged from firefighting realities on the ground as to defy rational analysis or practical guidance.”

“It’s caused a firestorm among firefighters and Forest Service veterans nationwide.”  ~ Dana Tibbitts

Fire Chief Scott Lindgren, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District
Fire Chief Scott Lindgren, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District

According to Tibbitts and the Nevada Globe, USFS Regional Foresters are supposedly enacting a new policy now, calling for all fires in the Tahoe Basin to be risk-assessed and monitored by those same Regional Foresters, “who alone would determine the appropriate response to new fire ignitions.”

Chief Lindgren says allowing fires to burn is criminal and claims that allowing fires to burn means the USFS can count those acres as “treated” in burn quotas ordained by administrators in Washington DC. “These are not treated acres,” he says, “they are destroyed acres!”

Frank Carroll says USFS fire commanders and administrators are using firefighter safety as a false flag to justify wildfire use, even at the expense of civilian lives and devastated communities.

“Firefighter safety is an excuse that is neither safe nor supportable — a feature of the persistent failure to build informed consent and to analyze environmental impacts before letting wildfires burn and then expand them on purpose,” Carroll said. “They’re unilaterally implementing giant prescribed wildfires — consequences be damned.”

According to the anti-managed-fire crowd, the Biden-Harris administration’s plan to Burn Back Better is detailed in Confronting the Wildfire Crisis and lays out a 10-year program to treat 20 million acres of National Forest System lands and 30 million acres of other federal, state, tribal, and private lands. Randy Moore Letter of Intent 04/24/24

Randy Moore Letter of Intent 04/24/24 — click to read

British Columbia starts season with most applicants in a decade

More than 2,000 applicants wanted to be a part of the British Columbia Wildfire Service in 2024, the highest number of applicants the service has seen in the past decade. The agency told WildfireToday that the application boost was linked to feedback received from the Expert Task Force on Emergencies established last October by BC Premier David Eby after the province’s historic 2023 wildfire season. The task force issued 31 recommendations, some of which were enacted swiftly ahead of the 2024 wildfire season.

Fire management made numerous enhancements to the Service’s wildland firefighter recruitment and hiring process as a result of the recommendations. Upgrades included expanding First Nations boot camps, extending the hiring period for new recruits, and encouraging applicants to indicate their work location preference.

The Service directly attributed the improvements to their having a full staff of 162 Initial Attack Crews and 30 Unit Crews in 2024, compared with the 149 Initial Attack Crews and 30 Unit Crews in 2023. Approximately 1,300  fire crew positions are employed directly with the Service, including an additional 500 permanent staff and 300 seasonal positions; 250 new recruits were invited by the Service from its New Recruit Boot Camps and First Nations Boot Camps this spring. The provincial 2024 budget provided $38 million to support stable, year-round staffing, including fire crew leaders and frontline staff who work in structure protection, prevention, risk reduction, and wildfire land-based recovery.

“People living in First Nations, along with rural and remote communities bear a disproportionate impact from the rising threat of wildfires,” said Wayne Schnitzler, task force member and executive director of First Nations’ Emergency Services Society. “I’m pleased to see the Province is boosting recruitment initiatives, including expanding First Nations boot camps as recommended by the Premier’s expert task force on emergencies. These initiatives break down barriers and pave the way for increased participation of Indigenous peoples as wildland firefighters.”

Apart from hiring, the Service said it will continue to implement numerous task force recommendations through 2024, including:

        • Launching a wildfire training and education center at Thompson Rivers University
        • Increasing new technology use to predict wildfire movement and growth
        • Increasing community evacuee support funding
        • Increasing the volunteer pool to support evacuees
        • Boosting wildland firefighting fleet and equipment
        • Enhancing wildfire recruitment tactics

BC Wildfire Service airtankers, meanwhile, are conducting practice flights from Kamloops and Penticton airports in the afternoons. The BCWS said airtankers out of Kamloops are flying the east side of Adams Lake, and  the Penticton aircraft will conduct practice about 40 nautical miles east of Penticton.

CastanetKamloops.net reported that BCWS noted the exact location and timing of tanker practices are subject to change depending on weather and other conditions; the practices don’t involve active fire. After six days with no flying activity, practices are run to make sure aviation teams are ready to respond. “It is important for air attack officers and pilots to practice, as it allows them to remain proficient and prepared to respond to active wildfires,” BCWS said. “Practices also ensure the aircraft are mechanically sound and ready to respond.”

White Mountains fire in New Mexico closes wilderness trails

The Lincoln National Forest has issued closure orders for several trails within the White Mountain Wilderness Area on the Smokey Bear Ranger District, and air resources are actively working the 7,200-acre Blue 2 Fire today. The fire has produced more smoke and is still active, even at night, because of high temperatures and dry conditions.

Blue 2 Fire
Blue 2 Fire

The western boundary of the restricted area is at the junction of Forest Service Road 107 and Big Bonito trail #36 and the order is intended to protect firefighters and the public on the Blue 2 Fire. The lightning-caused fire’s just a few miles north of Ruidoso and is still at zero containment, burning in timber and understory with 10 crews and 32 engines assigned. Other resources include 6 helicopters, 6 dozers, and 5 watertenders.

smoke map Ruidoso

According to Ruidoso News, crews are using direct tactics to build line, while aircraft are dropping water and retardant along the firelines. Fire managers are using a feller-buncher in the Ski Run Road area and crews are setting up sprinklers and hoses around local homes for structure protection.

Blue 2 Fire map
Blue 2 Fire map — click for larger version

Updates are available on the inciweb site, and Lincoln County also has updates online.

BC Wildfire Service looks back at tragic, historic 2023 fire season

Over 7 million acres burned, hundreds of homes destroyed, and tens of thousands of people forced to evacuate. British Columbia’s 2023 season was the most destructive in recorded history. The fires stressed local economies, infrastructure, and local ecology, but also had an unquantifiable impact on the province’s firefighting force, partly caused by the deaths of six wildland firefighters.

“The season has been emotionally challenging and will always be remembered for the tragic loss of six members of B.C.’s wildland firefighting community,” the BC Wildfire Service recently told WildfireToday. “These individuals exhibited remarkable courage, dedication, and selflessness, and their memory will continue to be honoured. Thank you, Devyn Gale, Zak Muise, Kenneth Patrick, Jaxon Billyboy, Blain Sonnenberg, and Damian Dyson for serving and protecting the lands and people of British Columbia.”

BC Wildfire Service
BC Wildfire Service

The Service said it’s difficult to zero in on one wildfire as the season’s “most memorable” because of the historic nature of the season. The Service, instead, singled out two instances: the lightning-caused Donnie Creek Fire, and the wildfires that burned between August 15 and 18.

The Donnie Creek Fire was discovered on May 12 near Fort Nelson and became B.C.’s largest fire in recorded history after burning 1.5 million acres. The fire exhibited aggressive growth, taking an 18-mile run just five days after receiving 1.6 inches of rain. The fire also resulted in the Service’s second death of  2023 when 25-year-old Zak Muise was killed after his utility terrain vehicle rolled over a sharp drop in a gravel road while responding to the fire.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Yet another Canadian firefighter dies … on the largest fire in British Columbia’s history

Extreme heat and strong winds caused numerous wildfires to exhibit intense fire behavior between August 15 and 18, according to the Service’s season summary page. More than 40 heat records were set during the period, and a following cold front brought strong gusting winds of 25 to 37 mph. Numerous wildfires spread exponentially during the extreme weather patterns, including:

        • The Kookipi Creek Fire near Boston Bar
        • The Downton Lake Fire near Gold Bridge
        • The Casper Creek Fire near Shalalth
        • The Crater Creek Fire near Keremeos
        • The McDougall Creek Fire adjacent to West Kelowna
        • The Bush Creek East and Lower East Adams Lake fires in the Shuswap merged as a result of the extreme weather
Kookipi Creek Fire
The Kookipi Creek Fire 16 kilometers northwest of Boston Bar and 7 kilometers east of Nahatlatch Lake. Elevated winds, following hot, dry conditions have resulted in extreme fire behaviour and further growth to north and east past the Nahatlatch and Fraser rivers. The fire crossed Highway 1, closing the highway in both directions. It is approximately 2000 hectares in size and is a highly vigorous surface and crown fire.

As the 2024 season kicks off, the Service has a single message to share with BC residents: prevention measures must be stepped up.

“The challenge of longer and more intense wildfire seasons in British Columbia cannot be met by one agency, organization, government, or individual acting alone,” the Service said. “This immense challenge requires a whole-of-society approach in which all people, governments, organizations, and others do their part in preventing and preparing for wildfires.”

Residents can take concrete actions to make their homes and community more resilient to wildfire threats, the Service said. Those actions include FireSmarting homes, preparing for potential evacuations, using fire safely on the landscape, and reporting any wildfires or dangerous activity that could cause wildfires.

The Service has undertaken more than 30 cultural and prescribed fire projects this spring and has treated 104,000 acres since 2018 to reduce fuels near communities and other values.

New wildfire alert system cuts down warning times

Oklahoma is the testing ground for a new wildfire system that uses local National Weather Service (NWS) forecast offices to quicken alerts sent to nearby communities.

The alert system software, called “Wildfire Analyst,” was created by wildfire technology company Technosylva. Its promising results were backed up at a recent U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing.

Oklahoma State Forester Mark Goeller explained the system to representatives while testifying at the hearing. He said the software, using NWS data and local emergency management warning systems, significantly reduces fire warning times by predicting a wildfire’s potential spread from the ignition point.

“The fire warning was issued in just six minutes on a recent wildfire occurring in a heavily populated wildland/urban interface area in the Oklahoma City metro,” Goeller said. “Oklahoma is the first state in the nation to use this system. Using our legacy process, it often required approximately 90 minutes to issue the fire warning.”

The Wildfire Analyst software has three core applications, according to Technosylva. The software’s “FireSim” application was the main tool Goeller referred to during the hearing. The application generates real-time fire spread predictions and supports wildfire planning through “what if” scenarios. The software’s other two applications, “FireRisk” and “FireSight,” predict wildfire risk days through forecasts and calculate risk reduction, respectively.

The state’s goal to overhaul its wildfire alert system started after its 2005-06 season when numerous fires burned in Texas and Oklahoma, Goeller said during the hearing. The fires resulted from prolonged drought and strong winds and killed 25 people and 5,000 head of cattle — and destroyed hundreds of homes, according to the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center.

Soon after that catastrophic season, the “Southern Great Plains Wildfire Outbreak Group” came together, including members of the Oklahoma Forestry Services, Texas Forest Service, and National Weather Service forecast offices. The partnership spawned from that group eventually led officials to look specifically at how weather dynamics did and could affect the states’ wildfire response.

“The things that I would emphasize as the lessons learned are for other states’ forestry agencies and local emergency management agencies to get to really working closely with their National Weather Service forecast offices,” Goeller said. “Look at the model we apply in Oklahoma, look at the process we went through … the research that went into what affects our weather systems would absolutely be employable in other places.”

Oklahoma is the testing ground for a new wildfire system that uses local National Weather Service (NWS) forecast offices to quicken alerts sent to nearby communities.

The alert system software, called “Wildfire Analyst,” was created by wildfire technology company Technosylva. Its promising results were backed up at a recent U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing.