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George summarizes the situation very well...the federal and state agencies do have different missions when it comes to fire management, and this can set us up for conflict when a fire threatens to cross from public (federal) to private (state-protected) lands. Our job at the local level is to continue to try to understand and respect the our respective missions, so that we can continue to work together.
I use fire modeling and a careers' worth of experience in fire management to help federal land managers make good decisions about managing large fires - decisions that make good use of taxpayer dollars, are safer for fire fighters, and in many cases, are better for the land. This often means using existing roads and other fuel breaks to stop a fire instead of building miles and miles of firelines with bulldozers and fire crews...which can mean that the fire gets bigger and lasts longer as it comes to the roads. It's almost as if we were working to stop a fire where it wants to stop instead of where it is very difficult to do so.
Fire is a natural process in much of our western forests - and in Wilderness areas, allowing natural processes to occur is part of our direction from the American public. The state Department of Forestry has no such mission. Using roads on the perimeter of Wilderness areas to stop a fire can be a very cost-effective and safe way to doing this. We showed this very well on a fire in northeastern Oregon last year, when we managed a fire for 60 days (from August 1 to October 1) that eventually restored 14,000 acres of Wilderness, saving an estimated $2-3 million in fire suppression costs, and injuring no one...that was a success, one that the American taxpayers should be proud of.
US Forest Service, Regional Fuels Specialist and Long Term Fire Analyst
posted 2 years, 8 months ago
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