Page 1



There are forces at play that we have

little or no influence over; and they direct our attention to the things that we do; and invite participation by a broader set of stakeholders in addressing our current unacceptable



Vicki Christiansen Deputy Chief US Forest Service


A field trip to prescribed fire sites with Nevada legislature. Photo: Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team.


our vision

To safely and effectively extinguish fire, when needed; use fire where allowable; manage our natural resources; and as a Nation, live with wildland fire.

our mission

To promote and facilitate Resilient Landscapes, Fire Adapted Communities, and a Safe, Effective, Risk-Based, Wildland Fire Response across the geographic and political boundaries of the western landscape using a network approach.


Report designed and prepared by Kate Lighthall - February 2017 Contact:

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the complex issues we face in our wildland fire system. The Cohesive Strategy tells us that a collective effort and investment on the part of all stakeholders is necessary to make meaningful progress towards the changes we seek: resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities and a safe, effective, risk-based, wildland fire response. We know these changes will not occur overnight; they will take years, even decades, to be measured as successful accomplishment. Throughout 2016, we’ve collected dozens of success stories and valuable lessons learned from our stakeholders in the West. They continue to demonstrate what Cohesive Strategy implementation and behavior looks like at all levels, through a wide variety of efforts. Collaboration is the consistent theme across the region. Stakeholders continue to demonstrate that there are multiple methods and solutions that each person, group, agency or organization can employ to make progress in the context of the Cohesive Strategy. The following pages outline just a few of those stories from the last year that exhibit progress towards our goals. As we lean in to 2017, it is with pride and a feeling of success about where we’ve been and where we’re going. We are just seven years into this gigantic effort to shift cultures and behaviors around wildland fire and we are seeing the progress more everyday. For information about the stories on the following pages, and many more, please visit Thank you for your continued participation and support. Sincerely,

Kate Lighthall Coordinator, Western Region


fire adapted Youth Conference participants helping put in a fuel break. Photo: Brianna Binnebose, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

Kane County, UT Commissioner Jim Matson talks becoming fire adapted with western commissioners in Jackson, WY. Photo: Kate Lighthall

fire adapted network

counties lead the way

The Fire Adapted Communities Network is a group of advanced community resilience practitioners who work with 797 partners (154 new partners since July!) to help their communities live more safely with wildland fire. In 2016, the FAC Network leveraged over $5 million from 68 funders to meet fire adaptation goals and facilitated a number of learning events including a fire department learning exchange between Boise, Idaho and Austin, Texas departments; a shared learning event in Southwest Colorado; an interactive website at and several prescribed fire training exchanges (TREX). Their network model also continues to expand with statewide networks in Washington, Colorado and Nevada with Arizona in the works.

Western county commissioners met in May to share experiences working across jurisdictional boundaries and engaging communities to help their communities become more fire adapted. The interactive dialogue included discussion about how fire adapted communities are leading to subsequent successes in landscape resiliency, and a safer, more effective wildfire response; effective codes and ordinances; how to help their communities live with wildfire; land use planning; comprehensive CWPPs; funding sources for mitigation; and most importantly, building and maintaining cross-boundary relationships. The workshop culminated in a commitment to build a County Wildfire Playbook which will be launched at their 2017


communities Spokane, WA homeowner Mike Thompson and Developer Chris Heftel discuss wildfire issues in the River Bluff community. Photo: Tom Banse.

Rapid City Veterans Workforce. Photo: Rapid City Fire Department.

firewise from the start veterans workforce

Local governments and elected officials can adopt codes and ordinances that restrict building in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) and support regulations that require Firewise standards for those who choose to build in fire-prone areas. In Washington, developer Chris Heftel took matters into his own hands when he developed the River Bluff Ranch subdivision near Spokane. He thought the websites and brochures that are full of mitigation advice were not enough. They became the rules as the development was built in preparation for wildfire from the ground up with fire resistant siding and roofing. In addition, Covenants, Codes and Restrictions (CCRs) will enforce the Firewise landscaping requirements.

Rapid City Fire Department partners with Rapid City Parks Department and the Bureau of Land Management to hire veterans returning from active duty to conduct fuels reduction projects while they transition to civilian life. The program has grown into a huge success with mitigation on large tracts of land adjacent to neighborhoods that face severe threats from wildfire. It has also coordinated well with homeowner efforts to reduce their own wildfire risk. Helping veterans, restoring fire-adapted ecosystems, raising wildfire awareness and improving the safety of local neighborhoods - a win/win for Rapid City!



North Fork Mono Tribe members sharing traditional ecological knowledge at Dixie Lake. Photo: Jared Ahldern.

Stakeholders learning about their role in the Cohesive Strategy in Casper, WY. Photo: Kate Lighthall

learning from tribes

collaborative decisions

As California battles the effects of its worst drought in 1,000 years, a number of Tribal members and scientists are working with US Forest Service officials to share traditional ecological knowledge and land management practices that can help contain wildfires and lessen the effects of drought. California’s Amah Mutsun, Karuk, Yurok, Hupa and North Fork Mono Tribes, among others, have traditionally carried out controlled burning every year in the fall, to restore meadows, preserve useful plants and prevent larger fires. Through these partnerships, shared knowledge and traditional land management techniques are helping land and fire managers address drought and climate change issues across the state.

Over 100 federal, state and local stakeholders gathered in Casper, Wyoming in October to hear from their peers about how the Cohesive Strategy is being implemented there and make recommendations for collaborative, cross-boundary actions for continued and increased efforts towards “living with wildland fire.� In addition to the history, context and science behind the Cohesive Strategy, case studies from both states were highlighted to demonstrate the value of collaborative efforts towards the three goals and the vision of the Cohesive Strategy. Following robust breakout sessions to discuss barriers and opportunities for increased action, the groups produced a set of recommendations that stakeholders in each state can take over the next year to help advance collaborative, cross-boundary efforts.


learning A multi-disciplinary field OR. trip to discuss interaction between wildlife TREX in Ashland, Photo: Firethe Learning Network. habitat, water quality, and forest management. Photo: Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team.

more than just trees

In the Tahoe Basin in Nevada and California, stakeholders are making the connection between water, wildlife habitat and the forest in terms of wildfire and its negative effects on all these systems. The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team (TFFT) works with state and federal agencies, local fire districts, tribes and community members to educate their populations about how interdependent these systems are and how landscape level treatments, including prescribed fire, can enhance and protect these systems into the future. The TFFT implements prioritized fuels reduction projects to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire, protect communities and safeguard the exceptional natural resources of Lake Tahoe. By sharing resources and knowledge through outreach and education, the TFFT engages their communities on the path to becoming more fire adapted.

Learning Laboratory in Central Oregon. Photo: Kate Lighthall.

learning laboratory

Borrowing a shared learning method from successful educational programs, the WRSC began using Learning Laboratories to bring diverse stakeholders together to learn about their interrelated roles in the broader context of the Cohesive Strategy and how their work is leading to meaningful progress toward the vision of living with fire. The Central Oregon Cohesive Strategy Initiative facilitated a Learning Laboratory in October that brought together fire managers, a development company, an environmental attorney and the county planning department to share their stories about the level of collaboration required to get approval to build a subdivision adjacent to federal land with environmental concerns and recent threats of wildfire.


rooted in The interdisciplinary Wildfire Research team. Photo: WiRe.

wireScience is being used at local levels to help communities individualize programs and efforts to become more fire adapted. The Colorado-based Wildfire Research (WiRe) group helps make fire-prone communities safer by applying scientific data to tailor wildfire education and outreach programs to better meet local needs, beliefs and attitudes. The interdisciplinary team of experts in economics, sociology and wildfire risk mitigation works together to find a better way for scientists to collaborate with those implementing on-the-ground wildfire prevention programs or creating fire-related policies. By tackling assumptions about what - group is happening in fire-prone communities, the WiRe assists by gathering data and providing insights that allow wildfire education and outreach programs to do their work in ways that are informed by science. The group works with communities, wildfire councils and those managing wildfire education programs.


Researchers test drone prototypes to burn 26 acres of restored tallgrass prairie. Photo: University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

using drone technology University of Nebraska - Lincoln (UNL) researchers have developed a drone that can set fires while airborne, with the intention of making controlled burns easier and safer. The team has tested their creation, which they say will help reduce the risks facing firefighters by letting them set controlled burns remotely. The aircraft carries balls of potassium permanganate powder that are injected with liquid glycerol before being launched to the ground. The combined chemicals set off a reaction that ignites the materials within 60 seconds after landing.

n science Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada. Photo: DRI

Promotional material from the campaign. Photo: HWMO.

research in the west

wildfire & drought

Fire science is inherently interdisciplinary and by combining the broad expertise at the Desert Research Institute, scientists are building a better understanding of the wildfire process and tools to address its complex challenges. DRI also studies climate change and its impacts across the West and how these changes are affecting seasons and fire. Researchers at DRI target the end user and practitioners with their projects and findings to provide relevant scientific information that can be utilized to support better fire outcomes.

Stakeholders in Hawaii launched Wildfire & Drought Look Out! in May as a continuing campaign to keep people across the state informed of current fire and drought conditions, provide tips on protecting life and property from wildfires, and to provide information and education on how to deal with prolonged drought. Their website,, is packed with updated information from the latest science-based drought monitoring and fire weather data as well as many resources including fliers, news releases, and the Hawaii Ready, Set, GO! Action Guide. The site also has a media tool kit to help communities stay engaged with the local media. More than three dozen federal, state and county government agencies and supporting organizations are a part of the effort.


risk management Crews managing the Bert Fire, May 2016 in Arizona. Photo: Kaibab National Forest.

Community prairie burn at the Annual Flames in the Flint Hills Festival in Kansas. Photo: Ryan Donnell

using unplanned fire

living with fire

In the southwest, fire managers have been taking advantage of unplanned fires for decades. The 2016 fire season was no exception. What’s different now is the level of community understanding and support for these activities. Through effective community engagement that includes a strong social media presence about smoke management, fire managers in New Mexico and Arizona have gained broad community support and are routinely able to use natural igntions as an opportunity for beneficial results. The Bert and Juniper Fires in Arizona and the Cuerno and Virgin Fire in New Mexico are just a few of the successful, lightning-caused fires that presented opportunities to capitalize on unplanned fire to achieve multiple objectives on the landscape.

In April, ranchers in Kansas engaged a few hundred visitors in the annual Flames in the Flint Hills Festival. Throughout this creative community event, visitors spent a day on the ranch riding horses, dining on locally sourced food, listening to local fiddlers, learning about prairie ecology and setting the hills on fire. This annual event brings together the concepts that lead to Fire Adapted Communities and Resilient Landscapes. Engaging the public in this way helps increase community understanding and support for range burning. The fires kill invasive species, keep encroaching trees at bay and encourage native grasses to seed; all providing optimal grazing land for livestock and other wildlife.


increasing pace & scale public/private partners The Forest Resiliency Project focuses on the overstocked forests on the Ochoco, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests in Oregon. Restoration of these landscapes is critical to maintaining and enhancing the ecological and community benefits provided by resilient forests. The 1.2 million acre project is an experiment to accelerate the pace and scale of restoration planning through the creation of NEPA efficiencies. The project is testing what is needed for forest managers to make informed decisions, using the best science and modeling methods to inform a large landscape-scale analysis. No matter the method, landscape-scale NEPA depends on strong collaborative relationships, connections to science, and broad agreement about the purpose of the project.

Rural Idahoans are coming together to help stop small fires from becoming big ones. Modeled after Oregon’s fire protection associations, Idaho’s Rural Fire Protection Associations (RFPAs) were established in 2012. In 2016, the Owyhee RFPA recently received some new equipment to fight fires on both public and private grazing land. This group of 65 members gets their equipment from the federal excess program, while all their personal protection gear and radios come from the Idaho Department of Lands. Fully prepared and equipped to fight fires, these volunteers are trained by the Bureau of Land Management. RFPAs are an excellent example of cooperating between private landowners and public agencies; and utilizing existing opportunities to improve wildfire response.

collective investment East face of the Elkhorn Mountains on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Photo by Jamie Knight, Oregon Dept of Forestry.

New fire suppression equipment. Photo: Troy Colson, KTVB.


landscape Wildland Session Ale. Photo: GoodLife Brewing

Prescribed fire on Loup Farm in Oregon. Photo: Jason Houston.

clean water = good beer tnc breaks burn records

We’ve said it before - clean water makes good beer. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is pairing up with breweries to raise awareness about the need for healthy forests and forest restoration. “Love your beer - love your forest” is the campaign’s message. Beer is 90% water and 50% of our water comes from forests that capture, store and filter our water. Beer’s main ingredient is at risk - over 82 million acres of our forests (the size of Colorado!) need restoration. TNC developed a campaign web page for OktoberForest on their site www. where stakeholders can take the pledge to support healthy forests and clean water. Cheers!


The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is celebrating a record year for controlled burns in 2016, helping to restore forests, protect water and safeguard communities. TNC led controlled burns on 154,577 acres in 2016, surpassing their yearly average of 118,000. Completed in close coordination with fire departments, government agencies and neighbors, TNC achieves dual purposes with controlled burns - restoring forest health and enhancing community safety by reducing flammable fuels, thereby reducing the likelihood of devastating fires. A great partner in the Cohesive Strategy, The Nature Conservancy is proving that more private landowners and the public are receptive to controlled burning as a means to create resilient landscapes and protect communities and firefighters.

resiliency The Greater Santa Fe Fireshed. Photo: Forest Stewards Guild.

a fireshed? yes!

The Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition (GSFFC) is a collection of agencies, private organizations and concerned citizens working to improve the ecology in the forests surrounding Santa Fe, NM. The effort goes beyond traditional borders to include all lands, resources and communities that can be impacted by wildfire. In Santa Fe, they say it’s time to act at the scale of a wildfire. A fireshed is an area where social and ecological concerns regarding wildfire overlap and are intertwined. Their mission: the GSFFC uses a proactive, collaborative approach to improve the health and long-term resilience of forested watersheds and communities by addressing wildfire. The Coalition works to build support, understanding, and shared knowledge of the role of fire in an adaptive framework to realize goals.

Sage grouse in natural habitat. Photo: Sage Grouse Initiative.

successful partnerships The Southern Utah Resilient Landscapes Collaborative has embraced the principles and goals of the Cohesive Strategy as they engage an approach to achieve fire resiliency goals across landscapes based on collaborative goals. This collaborative approach is strengthening fire management’s ability to restore and maintain landscapes across all jurisdictions, while increasing their overall resistance to disturbance. The US Department of the Interior awarded the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Utah $3.5 million for fuels reduction and greater sage-grouse habitat improvement in the southwest part of the state. Paul Briggs, BLM Utah Fuels Manager says, “...the Resilient Landscapes Collaborative is the right thing to do. This is the future of natural resource management.”


The lightning-caused “138 Fire� on the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico in September 2016. Fire managers weighed the risks of this low-to-moderate intensity fire and chose to provide point protection for historical sites and jurisdictional boundaries while letting the fire clean up the forest floor to mitigate the risk of future high-intensity destructive wildfires, improve forest health and promote the growth of grasses and shrubs that provide habitat.

goodfire #

2016 Western Cohesive Strategy Stakeholder Implementation Report  

A snapshot of what stakeholders did in 2016 to advance the Cohesive Strategy.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you