A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy
The catalyst for the effort to develop a cohesive strategy was the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement (FLAME) Act of 2009. Over the past three and a half years significant milestones were achieved. These are described more fully as resources below. The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy) effort was designed as a three-phased process to allow for the inclusiveness necessary to understand the complexities of managing wildfire risks across the Nation. Throughout the entire effort, applying best available science and creating environments for strong stakeholder engagement were established as critical to success.
Providing a Foundation
In 2010, the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC), agency leadership, and stakeholders agreed on the Cohesive Strategy goals:
(1) Restore and Maintain Landscapes (2) Fire-Adapted Communities (3) Response to Wildfire.
In addition, the WFLC adopted the following vision for this century: To safely and effectively extinguish fire when needed; use fire where allowable; manage our natural resources; and as a Nation, to live with wildland fire.
More detailed information on the evolution of the Cohesive Strategy including public engagement, and approach can be found on www.forestsandrangelands.gov
The first phase of the Cohesive Strategy was a blueprint for developing a wildland fire strategy that would not be limited to Federal lands, but would consider the needs of all lands and balance regional needs and perspectives with national planning.
Phase I set up the following leadership and engagement structure for creating the strategy.
Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) − strategic oversight of all wildland fire policies, goals and management activities.
Wildland Fire Executive Council (WFEC) – an intergovernmental Federal Advisory Committee Act committee established to advise the Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of the Interior on national policy issues, including the Cohesive Strategy.
Cohesive Strategy Subcommittee (CSSC) − created to advise the WFEC on Cohesive Strategy development and implementation.
Three Regional Strategy Committees (RSC) − created to advise the WFEC, to represent the regional perspectives, and to complete regional assessments and action plans in Phases II and III.
The National Science and Analysis Team (NSAT) – created to advise the CSSC and WFEC, to complete the science and analyses necessary for completing Phases II and III, and to document science findings in established peer-review processes.
In this way, the Cohesive Strategy was conceived as having both a top-down and bottom-up flow of information. The first phase involved developing a mutual understanding of the national challenges and goals and the science-based process for analyzing regional and national needs.
Phase I concluded with the presentation of the blueprint to Congress in two documents:
In Phase II, the three regions—the Northeast, the Southeast, and the West—completed, analyzed, and compiled regional assessments including landscape elements, ecological processes, and human values of local resources. Diverse stakeholders in each region met to identify regional challenges and opportunities, as well as key priorities. They agreed upon regional goals, which mirrored the national goals. And, the regions focused on how the processes of wildland fire, or the absence of fire, affect their values-at-risk. The NSAT worked with the regions to develop the assessments. A national report combined the findings from the three regional assessments to give a national perspective.
The Cohesive Strategy Phase II reports include assessments from each of the RSCs, the NSAT, and the Communications Framework.V3 – 11/08/2013 National Resources
Phase III – Science-based Risk Analysis Reports and Action Plans
Phase III is the conclusion of the planning and development of the National Strategy and the National Action Plan. There were three distinct sets of milestones. The first part of Phase III focused on regional understanding and analysis of issues by the RSCs. The NSAT collected data from multiple sources to provide consistent information to the regions for their analysis of wildfire risk. The regions considered alternatives for emphasis, and Risk Analysis Reports were submitted and accepted by the WFEC. In addition to the individual Regional Risk Analysis Reports, a National Risk Analysis Report for Phase III was developed by the CSSC and accepted by the WFEC.
The second part of Phase III focused on creating Action Plans for each region. The Action Plans looked at the issues identified in the Risk Analysis Reports and devised specific actions, tasks, and responsible agencies to accomplish those actions. The Regional Action Plans were submitted and accepted by the WFEC. The WFEC tasked the CSSC to use the regional action plans to inform the development of the National Action Plan.