Friday, June 15, 2018

Building Capacity for Prescribed Fire and Fuel Projects on Private and Public Lands

Field Exercise on Working at Multiple Scales
Lake Chelan, WA

Overview of 2018 National Fire Networks Workshop
By Don Amador, FireScape Mendocino Core-Team Lead
Date: 6/5/2018

As a Core-Team Lead for FireScape Mendocino, I had the privilege to attend the National Fire Networks Workshop (May 22 – 25, 2018) in Wenatchee, WA.   

It was the 1st time all of the five wildland fire networks* - (Fire Learning Network (FLN)Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (FAC Net),Indigenous Peoples Burning Network (IPBN), Prescribed Fire Training Exchange (TREX) Coaches Network, Washington State Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (WAFAC)- met together to advance our collective work in ecosystems and communities in North America.

Attendees at National Fire Networks Workshop
Wenatchee, WA

The Network objectives were to advance place-based work via peer-to-peer learning and by facilitating more cross-network action; strengthen relationships across networks; strengthen intra-network relationships, and facilitate network evolution and improvement; and distill lessons from the 2014 and 2015 wildfires in central Washington.

For me, the networking and/or cross-pollination with other fire practitioners (local, state, federal, Native American, non-profits, et al.) was golden.   Each day was a “full day” where one networked at breakfast – then attended informative modules – and then networked again during dinner and 

 Waterfall at Wenatchee Convention Center

I found inspiration, encouragement, and hope for our continued efforts at FireScape Mendocino.

One of the most significant presentations at the conference was made by the Mayor of Paternos, Carlene Anders, and other members of the Okanogan County Long Term Recovery Group.  The Group was formed in response to the 2014 Carlton Complex wildfire which was the largest wildfire disaster in the history of Washington State.

Slide from Presentation on Fire Recovery Efforts in WA

The presentation included emotional testimony from local families who were devastated by massive wildfires over the last few years.  Disaster Case Managers also described their efforts to gain the trust of displaced residents in order to secure critical resources (grants, donations, volunteers, etc.) to help them rebuild their lives.

I urge readers to visit their website link below to review information and videos about their herculean efforts.

The conference provided a lot of formal and informal learning opportunities to assist fire practitioners and collaboratives build capacity for fire and fuel projects on both private and public lands. 

The Washington State Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (WAFAC) gave an excellent presentation where they highlighted their program.

WAFAC states that fire adapted communities use many tools and programs to better live with wildfire.  The Firewise Communities USA program is one tool available to communities but is not the only tool.  Programs such as Ready, Set, Go! as well as local codes and ordinances, Community Wildfire Protection Plans, collaborative planning efforts, business resilience activities, local mutual aid agreements, fire department capacity, and more all help adapt a community to live with wildfire.

WAFAC also states there is no right or wrong time to become more adapted to wildfire.  And, that communities taking action to better prepare for, respond to, or recover from wildfire can all become fire adapted.  The recovery phase of wildfire can bring communities together just as effectively (and at times, even more effectively) than the time before a wildfire.

Check out more about WAFAC’s efforts at link below:

I believe the various megafires and numerous wildfires that have occurred over the last 3-10 years in the West have created the “perfect political storm” to help foster the political will in Western States to enact substantive political reforms to encourage and support fire/fuel/forest health projects on both private and public lands.

Several political events that might signal said sea change are as follows:

WA Governor, Jay Inslee, Talks About His Support for Prescribed Fire Projects

Governor Jay Inslee attended our event and highlights his/WA’s commitment to support more fire/fuel projects (see attached pic)

Forest Service and BLM Fire Leads from their Washington D.C offices were there to actively participate in the workshop and experience the collective power of the group to effect change to support enhanced fire and fuel projects in the country.

Governor Brown recently issued another executive order to bolster our efforts

Liz Rank, Publisher of the Networker, sent out highlights of a historic “3 week” burn permit in Nor Cal (see narrative below and also link to the Networker)

News from the Field
California: In a show of support for its growing partnership with the Cultural Fire Management
Council (CFMC), CAL FIRE recently issued a three-week permit to CFMC for controlled burning. The burns are part of the family-led burning program of the Yurok-Hupa-Karuk IPBN, and burns enable cultural fire practitioners to revitalize traditional fire practices. Multiple TREX in the area have prepared CFMC to work with families to safely complete these burns.

I believe that FireScape Mendocino is well poised to build on our collaborative efforts over the last 5 years to increase the number, size, and scope of fuel treatments on public and private lands.

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