March 28, 2011
DENVER -- Western Governors say a new national wildland fire management strategy they worked on with federal, tribal and municipal partners will focus on restoring forests, improving agency coordination in response to wildfires, and creating "fire-adapted" communities that will be more prepared for wildfires.
The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Interior have released two documents that provide the framework for future work, which will be done in phases to enhance the ability to plan for, respond to, and recover from wildland fires. Development of the documents was overseen by the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, which includes state representatives.
In a letter to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the Western Governors' Association called it a "solid first step toward a truly national cohesive wildland fire strategy." Signing the letter on behalf of their colleagues were Governors C. L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), Chairman; Christine Gregoire (Wash.), Vice Chair; and John Hickenlooper (Colo.), Forest Health Co-Lead Governor.
"Although there have been challenges throughout the process of developing these two documents, we recognize several very important components to this successful achievement," the governors said. "We look forward to being involved in the important next phase on Regional Assessments and Strategies."
The achievements include:
- Commitment of all participants and recognition of all stakeholders
- Increased understanding of shared responsibilities
- Dedication to working through difficulties
- Incorporation of management and restoration for resilient landscapes, which are important to reducing risks to communities
- Involvement of local expertise with regional strategy committees
Western Governors recently adopted a policy resolution urging a focus on large scale forest restoration. For more information on WGA's Forest Health program, visit the WGA Web site at www.westgov.org.