Wildland Fire Leadership Council Meeting
November 14, 2012
Butch Blazer, Roy Johnson, Kim Thorsen, Jim Karels, Jeanne Valasko, Joan Bower, Joe Freeland, Bill Kaage, Ryan Yates, Tom Nichols, Bob Roper, Mary Jacobs, Tim Murphy, Tony Harwood, Stephanie Crandall, Marcia McNutt, Jim Erickson, Alan Quan, Vicki Christiansen, Tom Harbour, Doug MacDonald, Jenna Sloan, Mike Zupko, Brad Simpkins, Tom Quigley, Ann Walker, Bryan Rice, John Ruse, Sandy Cantler
The regions discussed the work they have been doing since the spring. Specifically, they noted the differences in the land ownership, topography, population centers and fire intervals (long in the Northeast vs. Southeast and West), among other things. Similarities included each region engaged stakeholders and partners but it was difficult to reach everyone with the compressed timeline. In addition, they noted that there was not enough time to conduct a full risk analysis but they will be utilizing the science team tools in future work. The reports that were produced and the tools that were developed were done with the regions needs in mind so stakeholders can see their place in the reports. However, they are prepared to use what comes out of the National Report to inform actions in the regions.
The actions and activities were structured differently. This was important to allow the regions flexibility to meet their needs best (i.e. Northeast around the 3 national goals, Southeast around 5 key values, and West focused 3 broad alternatives around the three goals). Moving forward, these will be the focus for the upcoming work. The regions emphasized that this is really the beginning point for the Cohesive Strategy.
Each region discussed in further detail the work they accomplished and where they focused their efforts. For example, the Southeast focused on ways they can we best inform managers to enable them to do their jobs. Stakeholder involvement was strategic and focused on specific topics and activities. The Southeast report is centered around five key values that allow the stakeholders to see themselves and find a suite of actions to help them focus on the values most important to them.
The West emphasized that the collaboration effort was a success. The west set a foundation in play with an emphasis on the communication strategy that shaped the outreach, discussions, and collaboration with numerous stakeholders. They developed recommendations for each of the three focus areas and overarching recommendations that reach beyond the West. They are continuing to work and press forward with the action planning process and tying all of the phases together. The intent is to institutionalize the Cohesive Strategy across the nation.
The Northeast developed three options within the primary goals. The Northeast struggled with getting stakeholder feedback but they have a great core of people on the Regional Strategy Committee and are moving forward with the action plan and planning more opportunities for stakeholder engagement.
The National Science and Analysis Team said that the Phase II conceptual models played a strong role in Phase III to allow quantification of the models. Data was assembled that crossed the entire United States and they were able to compile the most comprehensive data set at the county level in the history of this type of work. The team looked at how risk could be affected by the various actions that would be taken. They acknowledged that the data is not perfect but they worked to clean it up. The work over the next six months will involve doing a National Trade-Off Analysis, which will determine the outcomes, consequences and trade-offs as they relate to various policy options. The team will develop two reports: one will be a high-level summary of what it all means, and the other will be a detailed technical report that will go through a science review, which is necessary at this level to influence policy.
- The Wildland Fire Executive Council, Cohesive Strategy Subcommittee, and National Science Team asked for additional time to complete the national trade-off analysis and the draft national report. They expect that the analysis and report will be completed by June 1, 2013. The Council agreed that the trade-off analysis is a necessary and critical component of the National Cohesive Strategy and agreed to the time extension.
The Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) tasked the Wildland Fire Executive Council (WFEC) to look into the wildland fire governance structure. The work of the task group is to look at the intergovernmental part: National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), WFLC, WFEC, etc. The team began meeting last summer and has spent much time reviewing work that has already been done in this area and have used it in their deliberations as appropriate. For example, the Guiding Principles came from senior federal work and provided clarity on where the authority was coming from.
The team asked questions concerning each group and its role such as: What do they do? Whom do they serve above and below the organization? To who are they accountable? Whom do they support? From this, they formulated the purpose statements. The team is now looking at the need for Charters and MOUs. They have a rough draft of the WFLC Charter and NWCG has done work on their charter. The next step is to gain concurrence on what they charters should look like and the appropriate make-up of the various group. This effort will start after the holidays. The team started with the existing WFLC charter and NWCG charter. They are also looking at WFEC, but have not modified it yet because they think that this one will be the easiest to modify. The team is working to crosswalk the three charters. Group has not achieved consensus on governance yet and they are still discussing national and regional governance associations. The Chair of the Governance Group was looking for the WFLC meeting to give sideboards on when WFLC needs the information.
- The WFLC Chair requested that a timeline be prepared on when the governance work, including the charters, MOU's and membership will be completed and share that with the WFLC.
Round Robin and Wrap-up
The group discussed potential topics for the next in-person WFLC Meeting. These included 1) a proposal from the Governance group including draft charters; 2) Cohesive Strategy: regional Action Plans and an update on the trade-off analysis; how can we turn the Cohesive Strategy into reality? Other topics could include emerging issues and opportunities. Ryan Yates: We've been at this for a couple of years now. Local government is very involved. We're encouraged by WFLC's commitment to moving through this difficult issue. We're proud partners and looking forward to the future implementation.
The Cohesive Strategy has been a collaborative effort up to this point and that has been key. It's vital that we stay together and not get into the thought process of what is best for our agency verses what is best for the nation. We are heading in the right direction together.
Some are getting questions about what the Cohesive Strategy will look like and how can they turn it into a reality. We don't always maximize the tools that we develop. We need to do this collectively and develop some powerful communication tools to promote the Cohesive Strategy at the National, Regional and Local levels.
The Cohesive Strategy is a great opportunity to bring in local government. Agree wholeheartedly on the issue of communication. Once the report is done then the real work starts. The communication strategy is going to be critical to reach out to the different networks and agencies. Many things need to happen at the local levels – mayors, fire chiefs, etc.
We need to effectively keep people informed about how we are going to implement the Cohesive Strategy.
At the local and regional levels there are many examples of best practices (local collaboration, local custom and culture expectations) we will have an opportunity to form more alliances between the federal, state, and local levels. When we get traction, we will need to stay focused and use the federal government to knit it together.
Excited about where we are and need to look forward into where we are headed and want to discuss the stakeholder engagement, science, and governance into the future.
In the west, there has been a ton of work that has been completed. This is the first time in history of pulling all of this data together is a huge accomplishment that wouldn't have happened without the Cohesive Strategy. It would be good to try to include the land management people as well as the fire people within our organizations as we move forward with the Cohesive Strategy. One area to focus on is where we can be accountable in timelines, etc. There is room for improvement regarding the use of WFEC to promote the goals and regional actions.
The resource work that needs to be done, needs to be looked at collectively, such as restoration work, material, development of a wood products industry or keeping one going. We need to look at the wildland fire management in a holistic way.
The next WFLC meeting will be later in the Spring but before the fire season. Perhaps have another call in February if Governance issues are ready for discussion so that we can make some decisions at the in-person meeting. We should clear up any questions/concerns before we meet in person.