NLC, Partners Continue to Plan Before Wildfire Strikes

June 18, 2012

by Mary Jacobs and Stephanie Crandall

As part of a nationwide effort to develop a collaborative strategy to address wildland fire prevention, response and mitigation, the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Interior recently released A National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, Phase II National Report. With input from federal, state, tribal and local stakeholders, including the National League of Cities, this report outlines regional and local needs and challenges to addressing the strategy's goals of restoring and maintaining resilient landscapes, promoting fire-adapted communities and responding to wildfires safely, effectively and efficiently.

"There are thousands of cities and towns across the country affected by the growing threat of wildland fire. NLC has used this unprecedented collaborative planning opportunity to ensure that local government is a partner with other agencies and organizations in finding ways to reduce risks to firefighters, the public, and our natural and cultural resources," said Mary Hamann-Roland, mayor of Apple Valley, Minnesota and NLC's representative on the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, which oversees the cohesive strategy. 

Key to the success of such a national effort is an understanding that wildland fire is not just a concern for fire departments, land managers, state foresters or the federal government. Local leaders, such as city councils, planning and zoning commissions, city planners and city managers, must be involved in helping to identify and implement solutions.

The final phase of the strategy currently is under way and will build upon the work done at the regional and national levels by conducting risk-based analyses, evaluating alternatives, and developing action plans. 

"It is not too late to become engaged in this process. I strongly encourage mayors, city managers, fire chiefs and city planners to sign up to receive updates on the final phase of the Cohesive Strategy," said Mayor Hamann-Roland.

"Your input on possible alternatives will help future government officials better coordinate and plan local government actions related to zoning and defensible space, and institute policies creating fire adapted communities."

Details: To learn more about the Cohesive Strategy effort, visit www.forestsandrangelands.gov.

Mary Jacobs is the Assistant City Manager of Sierra Vista, Arizona. She represents the local government perspective on the Wildland Fire Executive Council, which provides program oversight of the Cohesive Strategy. She can be reached at mary.jacobs@sierravistaaz.gov.