Future #3 – Resilient Landscapes

Imagine it is the year 2034. Reflect on how we got to the future described below. To participate, select “Give Input to Future(s).” (Note: When answering the questions, please imagine and envision ‘how could we get here?’ We want to understand the series of events that could lead to that future.)

FUTURE STATE: The public is increasingly confident in the abilities of the Federal wildland fire management community to protect lives, homes, and resources, and supports proactive wildland fire management. Prescribed burns are a readily accepted practice and have resulted in more resilient landscapes and lesser fuel loads. Public health and smoke issues are lower due to a selective approach to prescribed burns (e.g., in the winter season) that reduces ozone impacts and particulate matter in the air.

  • Required: What trends, events, or shocks (i.e. unexpected occurrences with major implications) could drive us to this future?
  • Optional: What changes to strategy, organizational structure, capabilities, and infrastructure would be necessary to address the future we are facing?
  • Optional:What information could help mitigate the risks presented by this future?
  • Optional:What information could help capitalize on opportunities presented by this future?
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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 #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 #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

Healthy Future

- The agencies got wiser and more serious about educating the public and Congress for the long-term, rather than focusing on year-to-year funding issues. - Agencies engaged all sectors of society in supporting activities which lead to this healthy, rationale future. - Educated and every more vocal public began demanding more "fire prevention" (i.e. Rx fire) to check fire danger, perhaps even staging protests upon Congress, ...more »

Submitted by (@karenmiranda)

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

- Need to place stronger decisionmakers and collaborators in senior leadership positions, so long-term decisions would be made across landscapes for the greatest good, rather than allowing in-fighting among various agencies.

- Fire leaders would need to match the "CEO" model of accountability and effectiveness, rather than the government bureaucrat or more protected "SES" model, which may mean changes to civil service benefits and retirement system.

-Organization would need to become more efficient and accountable, quasi-public, perhaps even running on some kind of profit model tied to mitigating large fire costs.

- Agency public affairs program would need to become more professionalized, transparent, and responsive; more integrated with leadership to provide more current and transparent information.

- Inventory and monitoring would no longer be optional, but required and integrated into every fire management plan and action.

- Rx fire and smoke management training would need to become requirements for all firefighters across all agencies, and the "fire manager" model would need to trump the "firefighter/solider" model of professsion.

- Private, NGO, and even volunteer/citizen firefighters would need to become more integrated into wildland fire and Rx fire projects.

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

- Evaluative data on skills sets/tests for leaders with the requirements to lead collaborative

- What are the current training/qualification outputs from various agency and training centers, PTFC, NAFRI, etc.?

- Comprehensive fuels treatments, wildfire, and smoke history database for all lands across entire country.

- Public opinion and knowledge assessment data on levels of understanding on Rx, smoke, and risk issues

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

- Where are the available sources/pools of most adequate leaders to manage this effort at high levels?

- Where are the best/most efficient sources of Rx fire and smoke training for large numbers that will be needed?

-Identification for training/qualifying volunteer/citizen fire managers to work at local/private levels.

- Polling/assessment of industry to identify where corporations/NGOs/others would be willing to bear costs (and gain public visibility) to support this future.

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