Climate Change, Climate Variability, and Ecosystem Response in the Western U.S.
Faith Ann Heinsch, PhD, Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service
USDA Forest Service Global climate change and its resulting impacts are the focus of much scientific study. Faith Ann will review the science of climate change and recent trends in climate (increasing temperature and changing precipitation patterns), both globally and nationally and projected trends for the next 30-50 years. Water availability is a key driver of change, particularly in the western United States. Faith Ann will discuss the number of ways our ecosystems have responded to changes in our climate, including longer potential growing seasons, increased wildfire activity, drought, and changes in vegetation. Download this presentation. (PDF, 17 MB)
Are You Ignoring 20% of Your Population When Planning for Wildland Fires?
Allan Fraser, Sr. Building & Code Specialist, NFPA Building & Life Safety Department
FEMA Administrator Fugate says “We don’t plan for easy in FEMA, we plan for real.” In virtually every community, more than 50 percent of the population needs assistance to prepare for emergencies and disasters. Twenty percent of Americans have disabilities and may have access and functional needs affecting their ability to read/understand preparedness information, hear alerts/warnings, utilize accessible transportation for evacuation, maintain their independence in a shelter, find accessible housing if theirs has been destroyed, access services to enable them to return to work, and deal with a myriad of other challenges. Progress towards real preparedness is being made in communities committed to inclusive emergency planning, with the participation of people with access and functional needs. Learn how your community can become better prepared. Download this presentation. (PDF, 5 MB)
After the Fire: The Still Small Voice and Still Burning Landscape
Stephen Pyne, PhD, Arizona State University and Author
The Great Fires of 1910 were a formative trauma for the American wildland fire community. It skewed a national debate about fire policy and pushed the U.S. Forest Service into a singular strategy of suppression. The fire community spent the next 50 years trying to take fire out of the landscape. It has spent the past 50 years trying to put it back. In recent decades the issue has become further polarized by an emphasis on either the wild or the urban, with middle working landscapes lost in the smoke. Moreover, the fire community must confront that other Big Burn, the relentless combustion of fossil fuels that underwrites much of the contemporary scene. The recent centennial of the Big Blowup offers a useful perspective to reflect on what this experience has meant and what it might suggest for the future. What have we learned, how have we changed, and where might we go next? Download this presentation. (PPT, 35 MB)
Why Do We Prepare? A Property Insurance Perspective
Carole Walker, Executive Director, Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, Linda Masterson, Author, Surviving A Wildfire: Get Prepared, Stay Alive, Rebuild Your Life, Michele Steinberg, Program Manager, Firewise Communities
Don’t miss this panel discussion that will shed light on the insurer’s perspective and how homeowner loss mitigation actions actually matter when it comes to their overall ability to survive and recover from the impact of a wildfire. For many years, there has been an assumption that residents are motivated only by the potential for an insurance discount, yet homeowners act to become safer for many other reasons. Panelists (Carole Walker, Linda Masterson, Michele Steinberg) will help answer questions about insurance incentives and disincentives, the impact of major wildfire events on insurers and policy holders, how insurers educate their customers, and the role of insurance in loss recovery. Questions from the audience will be taken after the presentation.
Fire Behavior Science & Experience: Framing Successful Wildfire Solutions for Policy Makers, Politicians and Residents
Bob Mutch, Fire Management Applications; USDA Forest Service (retired)
The year 2012 marked the 40th Anniversary of allowing free-burning fires to burn in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. A celebratory fly-over on July 2, 2012 to view four decades of complex fire perimeter patterns on the landscape caused fire historian Steve Pyne to opine in a later essay that “if Americans had a National Register of Historic Places for fire, the Selway- Bitterroot region would rank among the early entries.” Experience over decades taught us that new fires were being regulated in size and intensity by earlier fires to the extent that risk to firefighters and suppression costs were greatly reduced. Also, the fires were restoring resilient ecosystems in the wilderness, producing a buffering effect against fires that might enter the wildland/urban interface while providing wilderness benefits. Bob will share insights into making fire policies work, offering suggestions on ways to motivate policy makers, politicians, interface residents, and the public to propose and fund sustainable fire policies and practices. Fire managers, researchers, and interface specialists must play key roles in framing our fire story to ensure others act in a responsible manner to further the health and welfare of wildland ecosystems and communities.