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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Wildland Fire
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Assessment Team's Travels

The Assessment Team will travel across the United States for site visits to the following destinations:

  • National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), Boise, Idaho;
  • Colorado and the Southwest;
  • California and the Northwest; and
  • the Southeast.

Week of April 23

The Team traveled to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) during the week of April 23.  During their visit, they conducted the following interviews (some interviews were group interviews):

IFPA NIFC Interviews

IFPA_NIFC_Site Visit

If you are not scheduled to interview with the Assessment Team, you can still contribute to the Interior Fire Program Assessment 2012 by completing the survey questions developed by the Assessment Team.  Go to "How You Can Contribute" to provide your ideas, comments, and feedback no later than Friday, May 25, 2012.  Thanks for your interest in the Interior Fire Program Assessment 2012!

Weeks of May 7 and 14

The Assessment Team traveled to conduct interviews and site visits at the following locations:

  • Northwest interview trip to Sacramento, California; Portland, Oregon; Warm Springs, Oregon; and Prineville, Oregon. During these site visits, interviews were conducted with employees from the DOI Bureaus, the Intertribal Timber Council; and CalFire. In total, 41 interviews/meetings were completed.
  • Southwest interview trip to Denver, Colorado; San Luis Valley (Monte Vista), Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Zuni Pueblo; Fort Apache Indian Reservation; and Phoenix, Arizona.  Interviews were conducted with employees from the DOI Bureaus, San Luis Valley Interagency Fire Organization (Service First), Tribes, and Nature Conservancy.

Additionally during the two week period of time, interviews were conducted with DOI leadership from the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management; Office of Wildland Fire; Alaska Fire Service representatives and customers; USDA Forest Service; and National Association of State Foresters.  A member of the Assessment Team also met with the DOI Bureau Fire Directors or their representatives in Boise, Idaho. 

 San Luis Valley Service First Team

(San Luis Valley Interagency Fire Organization--a Service First unit) -- After a day of interviews with various stakeholders across the San Luis Valley, Colorado, Mike Blenden (Fish and Wildlife Service), Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Interagency Fire Organization, and the Leadership Team (Dan Dallas, Forest Service; Andrew Archuleta, Bureau of Land Management; and Lisa Carrico, National Park Service) showed members of the Assessment Team the Organization's shared Type 2 fire engine. The engine is owned by the State of Colorado and managed/operated by the members of the San Luis Valley Interagency Fire Organization.

Zuni Site Visit

(Zuni Pueblo) -- After interviews with various Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) members at the Zuni Pueblo, Paley Coonsis showed the members of the Assessment Team some of the equipment used by the Zuni Hotshots, including their crew carrier, equipment, and cache. 

Fort Apache Wallow Fire Description

(White River/Pine Top, Arizona; Fort Apache Indian Reservation) -- The Assessment Team interviewed members of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Fort Apache Agency in the office and in the field. In the above photo, Robert Lacapa explains the positive impacts of previous fuels treatment activities on the Fort Apache Reservation relative to the Wallow Fire of 2011.

Transition Briefing for AZ fire

During the interviews at the Bureau of Indian Affairs' office, the Assessment Team had the opportunity to sit through a Type 2 Incident Management Team's transition briefing.

Wildland Firefighters Monument - Prineville

(Prineville, Oregon) -- During their visit to the Northwest, the Assessment Team visited to Wildland Firefighters Monument in Prineville, Oregon. During their Northwest site visits, the team conducted stakeholder interviews in Sacramento, California; Portland, Oregon; Warm Springs, Oregon; and Prineville, Oregon.

Week of May 21

The Assessment Team's Southeast trip took them to various locations including the Okefenogee Refuge in southern Georgia and Panther Refuge in southern Florida. During the trip, interviews were conducted with stakeholders including:

  • State program leadership for the States of Florida and Georgia;
  • Tribal representatives for the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida;
  • Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management Regional/State leadership and field employees;
  • USDA Forest Service Regional leadership and field employees; and
  • Leadership from the Greater Okefenokee Association of Landowners.

 Okefenokee burn_no burn land

(Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge) -- Photos (in order) demonstrate a "no burn" area, an annual burn area, a burned area, and an area that was burned three years ago. 

Week of August 26

Government-to-Government Consultations and Down-Select Session Completed

Three Government-to-Government consultations with Tribal Leaders and a down-select working session with fire directors, fire executives, and Department leadership were completed the week of August 26.

Government-to-Government Consultations

The Project Leader Jim Douglas, with support from members of the Assessment and Project Working Teams, led three Government-to-Government consultations with Tribal leadership. The purpose of the Government-to-Government consultations was to provide an overview of Tasks 1 and 2 of the Interior Fire Program Assessment and gain Tribal leadership's feedback relative to the current state and the three organizational model examples detailed in the Task 2 deliverable to the Department.  Tribal consultations were held in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Spokane, Washington; and Bloomington, Minnesota.In total, nearly 100 interested parties (primarily tribal representatives and staff) attended the consultations. Tribal Leaders had until September 12, 2012, to provide additional feedback to the Assessment Team.

The input of Tribal Governments is invaluable to the Department's wildland fire management program and to the success of the Assessment process; therefore, future consultations will be planned prior to implementation of any recommendations as a result of the Interior Fire Program Assessment 2012 project.

Down-select Working Session

Department and bureau wildland fire management leadership and representatives from the USDA Forest Service, US Geological Survey, and Bureau of Reclamation attended a down-select working session in Boise, Idaho, on August 29. This facilitated session focused primarily on discussions regarding the current state and the three organizational model examples from the Task 2 deliverable to the Department.

The objectives for the down-select working session were to:

  • establish common understanding of functional options and organizational models;
  • identify benefits, limitations, risks, implementation issues, and alternate structures of organizational models; and
  • inform identification of a smaller set of options for further analysis.

During the down-select session, participants openly discussed recommendations for improvement and the potential organizational structures presented in the Task 2 deliverable to the Department. The discussion focused on merits and limitations of the models and current state, as well as adjustments and transition considerations.

Key themes from the down-select working session, as voiced by the participants, included the following:

  • Participants validated recommendations for improvement.
  • Fire is integrated into the unique land management functions of each bureau and does not stand alone. Similarly, fire programs and administrative support are intertwined with other bureau programs. Personnel are not necessarily dedicated to fire.
  • A great deal of cooperation currently exists; bureaus realize efficiencies. The options discussed in the Task 2 deliverable did not include the current state, although the current state can serve as a baseline for comparison purposes.
  • There is potential for sharing services within some administrative and technical areas (e.g., smoke management, planning, Global Positioning Systems (GPS)/Geographic Information Systems (GIS), grants and cooperative agreements, acquisitions, and human resources) among bureaus at local, regional, or national levels.

Plan for Moving Forward

Department and bureau leadership indicated the Implementation Plan, prepared during Task 3, should address the following two efforts:

  1. Carry out Task 2 recommendations for improvement within the current organization structure; and
  2. Analyze functions that may be shared at the national, regional, and/or local levels.

While organizational changes will not be included in planning during Task 3, they may naturally follow the analysis of specific functions, as the Department collects more information and implements other recommendations.

Submittal of the Task 3 deliverable to the Department is scheduled for October 17, 2012. At that point, Department leadership will make decisions for moving forward. Bureau and Tribal leadership will be active participants in subsequent decisions and activities.