Future #1: Hot, Dry, and Out of Control

NPS WHIS Fire Management Officer (FMO)

At this point, this "Future Situation" is already a present day reality. There is no good scientific argument against Global Warming, no matter what the causal factors. We are already starting to experience lengthening fire seasons, warming global temperatures and increasingly unprecedented drought conditions. Despite advances in technology and process we in the wildland fire service continue to battle increasingly ...more »

Submitted by (@tomgarcia)

What information could help mitigate the risks presented by this future? :

Direct and open communication and education about were we are, what we know and where we think we are headed both internally and externally. Fire Is....neither necessarily good or bad, not completely within our ability to control when and where desired. This needs to be understood both implicitly and explicitly. We need to be clear that fire is a very necessary part and parcel of the environment. It will happen and it will not necessarily be a complete disaster when it does. It may type convert an area it may provide its preservation. It may destroy one species habitat while benefiting another. In the simplest form fire is part of an evolutionary process. Even if we can not call it a "benefit" from an agency accounting perspective, it for better or worse will likely be the only way we will consistently experience the potential benefits of landscape scale fire moving into the future. Especially as Rx fire treatments become increasing difficult to implement. We as a culture and society will have to come to grips with this.

What information could help capitalize on opportunities presented by this future? :

Perhaps we need to do better job of selling the fact that even with events like the Rim fire, there are still tangible benefits. Even internally we tend to view these events as complete disasters. We do a good job of quantifying and interpreting the negative impacts of these events. Perhaps if we spent equal time looking into potential benefits we may find that the overall good out weighed the negative. Keep in mind.....Fire Is......neither bad or good. It fulfills both. It just depends on perspective.

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"Wild Card" Issues

Leaders need a clear text assessment of future scenarios

With today's release of the Cohesive Strategy, the timing is right to develop a succinct and clear text picture for leaders of what fire management will look like in 10 years under the new National Cohesive Strategy. This scenario should utilize updated trends from past QFRs (climate change, wui, fuels, unstable budgets, declining capability, etc...) and clearly articulate whether we can expect negative wildfire impacts ...more »

Submitted by (@segar.john)

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Changing Climatic Conditions Effects on Landscapes

Connecting the dots

With a changing climate, species shifts will occur in the next 20 years with high elevation species declining or disappearing; snowpack has been declining the past 20+ years which will affect water quantity and quality; cold temperature aquatic species, and recreation and tourism. Current vulnerabilities will be exacerbated- fire risk increasing; more extreme floods and droughts. These are well described and modeled in ...more »

Submitted by (@gwynmyer)

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Evolving Risk in Public and Firefighter Safety

Build Fire-Permeable landscapes in the west

We need to build a fire permeable landscape in the west. We need to use fire to restore forest resiliency and to use zoning and building codes to reduce flammability of structures. For example, in ponderosa pine and mixed conifer, let wildfire do the work in remote landscapes, use controlled fire to reduce surface and ladder fuels near towns and finally do mechanical treatment in the backyards. Combine these approaches ...more »

Submitted by (@rfairbanks)

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"Wild Card" Issues

Establish a High School program for Wildland Fire Ecology

Using the network of Fire Explorer programs nationwide, help us create a youth program that will both teach the wildland fire ecology and the urban interface constraints.

Submitted by (@michael.hall)

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"Wild Card" Issues

Fire is too important to be left to "fire people"

Fire "fighters" are not necessarily the best people to manage fire. Foresters, Range Conservationists, Ecologists, and other natural resource managers should take a more prominent role in managing the primary ecological disturbance agent in north american terrestrial ecosystems. Make fire management more accessible to professional natural resource managers and new college grads. The Incident Qualifications and Certification ...more »

Submitted by (@qpevrhy)

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"Wild Card" Issues

Stop privatization of fire management

Privatization is resulting in more money going to suppression and less into fuel treatment, fewer women and people of color in fire management, while having none of the vaunted "private sector efficiencies" that were advertised.

Submitted by (@rfairbanks)

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Technology and Program Infrastructure

Aircraft for the Future

With the aging Wildland Air Tanker Fleet, more of the USA sees the need not being met when current tankers become non air worthy. I believe this should be a National Fleet including Water Scooping CL-415's that are 'loaned' and managed by other Government agencies. MN DNR has two aging CL-215's that will never be replaced by the state. But it the Federal Government owned the planes, I believe MN would be interested ...more »

Submitted by (@robert.nelson)

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Evolving Risk in Public and Firefighter Safety

Fire Protection from the House out, rather than from the Wildland in

Research has clearly demonstrated that the most effective way to protect lives, property, and the natural environment from wildland fire is to focus directly on making communities more fire safe rather than spending millions of dollars clearing habitat far from assets at risk. This provides for long-term solutions rather than endlessly trying to modify the natural environment. Fuel treatments can provide some benefit, ...more »

Submitted by (@richardw.halsey)

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Future #1: Hot, Dry, and Out of Control

Global Climate Shift, Fuels, and Humans

The trend has been a gradual shift or multiple variables gradually changing over time, but the climate and what we view in our surroundings work like a balanced beam. Everything in the natural world is a balance that is counteracted by something else. Because humans are such powerful and advanced organisms we are able to change that balance more drastically than any other organism. Once the balance starts to go one direction ...more »

Submitted by (@wmccrady)

What information could help mitigate the risks presented by this future? :

More information on how the climate is changing and better publication of that data. There should never be an argument that the scientific community as a whole is wrong, that is a ridiculous notion with no basis in reality.

Better development and use of already existing technology that can be used to improve safety and efficiency of fire suppression.

Politicians, law makers, and the public will listen to public servants and firefighters, so we need to know what we are talking about.

What information could help capitalize on opportunities presented by this future? :

A change in temperature is not scary or enough motivation to make people change their activities. But the change in extreme weather events, climate events, and wildfire is enough to get their attention. We can use the facts to show what has changed and what will change so that the public will have an interest in changing as well.

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Technology and Program Infrastructure

Paying for fuels reduction with a biomass market

First, we need to look at forest biomass as a renewable, clean energy source. Burning those doghair thickets of pine will release the same CO2 whether in a wildfire that threatens life and property, or in a smokestack with catalytic scrubbers and electric/heat generation. Second, we need to weigh the cost of fighting those wildfires versus the cost of thinning and hauling ladder fuels STRATEGICALLY within 100’ of existing ...more »

Submitted by (@aedean)

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Future #3 – Resilient Landscapes

"Climate Change"

A 25 year drought cycle started in 1996. If this cycle continues as predicted, a 25 year "wet cycle" should start in 2021. This in itself will result in fewer "mega-fires". What this means for fire agencies is, the time to take advantage of current "teachable moments" from the historical fires of 2011 will start diminishing. As the climate starts to abate during the anticipated "wet cycle", it will become increasingly ...more »

Submitted by (@lmcneely)

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

Fire agencies should capitalize to the fullest extent the current memories of historic fire activity-especially the 2011 fire season, and begin mitigation planning, CWPP's, etc. now.

What information could help mitigate the risks presented by this future? :

"At Risk" communities should be prioritied, and those most "at risk" should initiate their mitigation activites as soon as possible. Whether a "wet cycle" materializes or not, this is still the best course of action.

What information could help capitalize on opportunities presented by this future? :

Once a "wet cycle" has been in place long enough for documentation, agencies could look at shifting emphasis from "response" to "mitigation", and take advantage of the "wet cycle" to implement as many mitigation projects as possible to prepare for the next "drought cycle".

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