The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior today issued A National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, Phase II National Report, which focuses on restoring and maintaining resilient landscapes, creating fire-adapted communities, and responding to wildfires. The report was crafted by working closely with Federal, state and local governments, tribes, non-governmental organizations, and citizens.
“The growing threat of wildland fire to U.S. forests, grasslands and other natural areas are also a growing threat to our local communities,” said Chief Bob Roper, chair of the IAFC Wildland Fire and Policy Committee. “The Cohesive Strategy provides fire departments with both an opportunity and the responsibility to be full partners in addressing this threat.”
The Cohesive Strategy builds on successes of the past while incorporating a new collaborative approach to managing the complex national problem of wildfire. This new approach includes all the partners involved in fire management—including local fire departments—and gives each a voice and a role in addressing a collective problem.
“Our achievements in this phase of planning are due in large part to working closely with an integrated framework of agencies, organizations and the public,” said Rhea Suh, Interior assistant secretary for policy, management and budget. “That extensive coordination, along with robust discussions among regional interests, gave us an accurate insight on current and emerging risks of wildland fire.”
The Strategy will be adaptable to different geographic scales: national, regional, and local, with a goal of promoting meaningful collaboration among stakeholders in an ‘all-lands, all-hands’ approach. It will be implemented throughout 2012 using a three-phased approach and the involvement of a variety of stakeholders, including the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
“The Cohesive Strategy is an unprecedented collaborative planning and risk analysis document to improve response and resiliency in the event of wildland fire,” said Butch Blazer, USDA deputy under secretary for natural resources and the environment. “Phase II sets a strong foundation for the type of diverse interests and activities involved when wildfire strikes.”
In Phase I, the national framework and goals were defined. In Phase II, regional assessments were completed to address and scale the national goals to the needs and challenges found at regional and local levels. Regional Strategy Committees representing three regions of the country—the West, Southeast, and Northeast, examined the processes by which wildland fire, or the absence of wildland fire, threatens areas and issues that Americans value, including wildlife habitats, watershed quality and local economies, among others.
“Discussing and addressing our wildland fire problems in a national, cohesive approach is a step in the right direction,” said Randy Dye, president of the National Association of State Foresters. “We all recognize the importance of the document in framing future dialogue on wildland fire management issues. The states’ commitment to participate in the process ensured that a broad range of interests were considered and melded into the report.”
The third and final phase of the Cohesive Strategy will build on the work from Phases I and II, as regional and national risk-based analyses and action plans are completed. The risk-based analyses will examine potential consequences, benefits and alternative actions designed by the regions to enhance decision-making across jurisdictional boundaries.
For more information on the National Cohesive Strategy and to view the national report, visit www.forestsandrangelands.gov.
About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world’s leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.