Future #3 – Resilient Landscapes

Real Change is Possible

* Dept. of Education required the ecological benefits of fire to be part of the science core curriculum K – 12.

 

* Universities added requirement to their undergraduate core curriculum that required credits in an environmental awareness or ecosystem management course that recognized fire’s role and benefits across our landscapes.

 

* Corporations have adopted landscapes by funding and promoting positive ecological benefits across all landscapes. Stockholders are supportive because more monies are available based upon the tax benefits realized from the federal and state/county levels.

 

* Corporation encourages and supports employee participation (by paying them in volunteering/ participation in FAC like events) that resulted in private funding and partnership in making local and regional scale changes and lowering fire risk to personal and state/federal property.

 

* Congress changed expectations requiring appropriate federal agencies and programs to consider (fire) landscape resiliency in all budgeting activities. (This is similar to executive orders that require considerations for a changing climate and/or limiting GHG).

 

* WFLC needed to change its name and charter due to the dedication and strategic leadership demonstrated by bureau and department leadership of incorporating CS into our everyday networks and business.

 

* Land management programs required to inform how (all) funding helps their landscapes in becoming (fire) resilient. Since this occurred, fire risk is reduced in a meaningful way.

 

* Agency Administrators yearly rating criteria or EPAP’s consistently are being scored the highest rating in addressing fire concerns because large landscape prescribed fires and treatments, across all lands, have replaced the damaging wildfires on a meaningful scale.

 

* Fire management funding has been proactive in rewarding those participants who demonstrate commitment to treating landscapes in fire resiliency. Lands in healthy conditions are rewarded by maintaining the capacity and project funding to maintain and expand the lower fire risk. The old way of business was putting the money into high-risk areas regardless if they demonstrated changes or not and land managers were “punished” by losing their budget to areas where high fire risk was not or could not be reduced in a meaningful way.

 

* Prescribed fire is demanded by our public in all seasons to meet ecological needs of the landscape due to the changed regulations by EPA. EPA finally realized the trade-offs between wildfire smoke and prescribed fire; how prescribed fire is a better option for carbon sequestration, and the avoided impacts to water quality and soil erosion.

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What changes to strategy, organizational structure, capabilities, & infrastructure would be needed? :

* Continued and increased support from engaged senior leadership who expect real time results to the fire issues in a meaningful way in all program areas, not just the fire program.

 

* Federal/State leaders use the allocation process to entice changes in rewarding positive behaviors towards goals. Current (federal) system has no incentive to reduce wildfire risk. Reduce risk = reduce budget. Currently there is no regard to investments or maintenance of functioning ecosystems or the accomplishment/leveraging of other stakeholders (other federal/state stakeholders, NGO, private lands) in federal fire allocation decisions.

 

* BAR projects should not be approved or funding allocated unless there is a long-term commitment from agency to match request or commitment to maintain work. Currently it appears that in most situations, once fire funding is expended, on-the-ground accomplishment or maintenance in that area ceases.

 

* EPA Senior Executive level officials actually engage and collaborate with those in USFS, DOI, and DHS (FEMA). It appears that EPA’s communication and rule making is only one-way - as it relates to EPA goals. EPA does not seem to care about solving wildfire problems facing our federal, state, tribal and private lands in a meaningful way. EPA needs to reconsider how their new rules will limit the expansion of prescribed fire.

 

* Develop and/or expand existing programs such as the USFS Integrated Resource Restoration or Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. It appears that DOI has no existing or similar program.

 

* Advocacy with our legislators (both federal and state) to change language to appropriation laws requiring all appropriations that are meant for on-the-ground accomplishment to report how accomplishment is meeting land resiliency goals (beyond fire). Fire cannot solve the fire problems alone.

 

* Begin purposeful communication with our legislators - help them understand the fire problem cannot be solved by federal/state agencies alone. Help them understand importance of incentives, such as federal and state (county) tax breaks, to engage private citizens, tribes, and municipalities in a meaningful way.

 

* Continue and expand work with insurance companies for private landowners and rural/volunteer fire departments that are proactive in community and fire resilience.

 

* Engage social science and education systems in a meaningful way to incorporate knowledge about wildland fire.

 

* Fire program (federal/state) needs to stop thinking that true collaboration is informing other fire programs of what they want to do. Fire needs to expand thinking by reaching out more to other internal and external stakeholders (outside the fire program) at a meaningful scale. We are never going to solve the fire problem if current trends continue.

 

* Federal decision makers need to ensure existing capabilities are maintained. It appears that once management reduces wildfire risk in a meaningful way (@ local/regional scale) funding is moved to areas that are not functioning well. This practice will leave our most current fire resilient landscapes vulnerable to future wildfires and a loss of significant investments.

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Idea No. 70