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

Awareness of the Fire Environment

- Gaps exist in knowledge of the fire environment risk, crew movements and communications strategy.

- There are perceived increased, significant weather events and convective changes.

- There seem to be stagnant development in situation awareness, placing fire fighters at risk.

Submitted by (@heath.hockenberry)

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

- And answer to the question - exactly where are all the people on the fire, in real time?

- Direct communications and intelligence aimed at clarifying safety zones and escape routes.

- Real-time fire progression maps, related to approaching weather.

- Real-time fire detection, immediately communicated to fire managers and weather experts.

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

- An ICS “Fire Environment” Section (IMET, FBAN, LTAN, GSAN), responsible for delivering fire environment products that take a more holistic view of the fire environment for short term briefings and incorporate resources and objectives in mid and long term planning.

- A National Fire Environment Center (analogous to the National Hurricane Center)

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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 ...more »

Submitted by (@iadtthmifm)

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

We're here already

Our current trend carries us to this future. Indeed, we are already here in many respects. No additional events or shocks are needed, especially if the current political gridlock continues. The main things I see that would be different is the shear number of species listed under the Endangered Species Act due to major vegetation changes brought by climate change and human population growth. I would not be surprised ...more »

Submitted by (@lulu10)

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

In rangelands, much better understanding of how natural events, such as defoliator outbreaks and fire, shape plant community composition and structure. In all ecosystems, a much greater willingness to experiment with radically different approaches to land management that draws on so-called traditional ecological knowledge and includes bet-hedging strategies to address the potential impacts of climate change on pant communities, fuel beds, and fire regimes. Improvements to climate predictions and downscaling of such projections to scales that better allow managers to conduct more realistic impact analyses should continue.

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

Generally, the same types of information that would help us mitigate the risks are likely to present us with opportunities we could capitalize on, provided political gridlock doesn't wreck everything first.

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Future #4 – Radical Change

Tribal Management of Federal Lands

Tribes possess thousands of years of truly adaptive management as demonstrated on their lands. Fire was taken away as their primary tool about 150 years ago, yet they have adapted and continue to do so. Tools like timber harvest have been adapted to provide some of the effects that fire once provided. Tribes continue to adapt and provide some of the best examples of resilient landscapes.

Submitted by (@jim.erickson)

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

Congress should pass legislation providing Tribes and states with the authority to assume local management of Forest Service and BLM lands over extended time frames to demonstrate spun, sustainable ecosystem management.

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Future #2 – Super Fire Administration

Super Administration

A dysfunctional system of government that is divided along too many moral, economic and political agendas does not provide for a logical, systematic system of covering resource and fire management. The current system leads to chaos and inefficiency in dealing with the situation. This process continues to exacerbate the problem of escalating suppression which then leads to the development of more fire fighters at the ...more »

Submitted by (@jim.erickson)

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

Nothing, we are well on this course.

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

Have Congress adopt the proposed suppression funding model being offered in numerous legislations.

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Future #3 – Resilient Landscapes

Adaptive Management

The lack of active management of our federal resources has led to continued overstocked stands with excessive rule loadings. This has exacerbated the problem due to loss of forest infrastructure as a cost effective means of addressing the issue while providing economic and employment opportunities for rural communities

Submitted by (@jim.erickson)

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

Nothing, we are already on this track.

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

Public awareness of the connectivity of humans to their environment, similar to the Native American culture. People need to better understand the natural role of humans manipulating their environment in a way that is sustainable for generations. Awareness of the natural role of fire in these dynamic ecosystems

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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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Future #2 – Super Fire Administration

Are these really the correct assumptions for Future #2?

If the scenario calls for a future super firefighting organization due to increasing wildfires and intense pressure to suppress to protect lives and communities. this does not necessarily imply a declining focus by the federal government on land management. Maybe it leads to an increasing role by states, tribes, communities, non-governmental organizations and private industry to increase their role in managing landscapes, ...more »

Submitted by (@gamlam1107)

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

If the natural gas industry can re-vitalize itself based on new technology, than the traditional wood utilization industry could too - maybe with some incentives and investments in some of the new wood and biomass utilization technologies being worked on.

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

More emphasis on fuels reduction and biomass utilization approaches to assist with community protection is drastically needed. While important, fire suppression should be supported and maintained, but not be the focus of future efforts.

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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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Future #3 – Resilient Landscapes

Statewide WUI and Prevention Coordinator

Too much fire suppression, prevention being too successful to the point the public believes any fire is bad fire.

Submitted by (@kstafford)

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Future #4 – Radical Change

Technological firefighting

Unmanned Aircraft Systems have taken over the skies. Cloud networks and 24/7 webcams and data collection even in remote areas has become the norm. Americans are increasingly tech-savyy and less physically fit or willing to engage in physical labor. As Americans live more in climate-controlled internal environments, and business is also more technologically dirven, outdoor recreation and humans steeping foot on public ...more »

Submitted by (@karenmiranda)

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

- need to hire more techno-geeks, and physical fitness/training will not be important

- fire suppression will be managed largely by UAS from indoor environments

- will decrease field and localized resource management positions in favor of larger-scale experts in managing watersheds and landscape resources, most likely combined with city planning type skills

- A new education/profession would need to develop which combines natural and technological resource management.

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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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