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

Foundational Documents    

Phase I – The Blueprint

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: 

The NSAT completed a Risk Framework Report: 

Phase II – Regional Assessments 

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 

Regional Assessments 

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. 

Regional Risk Analysis Reports 

Regional Action Plans 

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. 

Phase III Documents

The National Strategy:  The Final Phase of the Development of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy

National Action Plan:  An Implementation Plan for the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy

Other Resources:

For more information on the Cohesive Strategy visit: http://www. strategy/thestrategy.shtml

Science Analysis:  The Science Analysis of The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy