Firefighters prepare drip torches ahead of conducting a prescribed burn in southwest Idaho. (DOI/Neal Herbert)
BY JEFF RUPERT
The October National Cohesive Strategy Workshop was a good opportunity to reflect on the cohesive strategy. Specifically, it has given us a focus to sustain a united federal wildland fire community with a greater emphasis on resilient landscapes and fire adapted communities, and an increased priority on vegetation management. With more than 98 million people living in the wildland urban interface, progress on these issues is urgent. October’s workshop theme, “Defining our Future with Wildland Fire – A New Paradigm” was a helpful prompt for wildland fire managers to talk about where we are and where we need to be.
One way communities come together to address wildland fire is through a community wildland fire protection plan. These community level efforts identify the values and resources that matter most to those communities. This helps adjacent land managers know where they can work together on proactive fuels treatments or where they might want to stage resources for enhanced wildfire protection. If we can implement this kind of local collaboration in more places, then we can roll-up risk to a national level instead of trying to push nationally-calculated risk down to local scales. A national roll-up of locally identified priorities will most certainly result in more local ownership, and greater consensus on identified shared values.
I’m hopeful that we can change the wildfire risk profile of communities across the nation and that we can build off the insight and successful communities that have taken on these challenges.
Jeff Rupert is the Director of the Office of Wildland Fire. In over 20 years with the Department of the Interior, Jeff also served as the Chief of Natural Resources and Conservation Planning for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Refuge Manager of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma), and Refuge Manager for the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Texas).