What is in this article?:
- The U.S. Forest Service, Department of the Interior, Department of Defense and FEMA continue to ramp up efforts to protect life, public safety and aid in community recovery.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved two additional Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAGs) for the Rosecrest Fire in Salt Lake County, Utah; for the Arapaho Fire in Albany County, Wyoming. This brings the overall total number of FMAGs approved for western states during this fire season to 21. Other states that have received these important grants include Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Nevada.
FMAGs are provided through the Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. Eligible items can include expenses for field camps; equipment use, repair and replacement; mobilization and demobilization activities; and tools, materials and supplies.
Overall, federal partners have deployed 22 Incident Management Teams (IMT), including six Type 1 IMTs, to help provide a coordinated and aggressive response to wildfires across the country. These teams have been strategically assigned to highly complex wildfires such as, the Flagstaff Fire near Boulder, Colorado, the Dahl and Ash Creek fires in Montana, the Seeley and Fontenelle Fires in Utah, the Neighbor Mountain Fire in Virginia, and others.
To further address the severity of current wildland fire activity across the western states, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack have directed federal land managers to take additional measures to help reduce the risks of new wildfires, ensure the highest possible level of coordination among federal land management agencies, and continue to prioritize safety for firefighters and communities. Additional measures include prohibiting new prescribed fires in geographic areas where Preparedness Level is at 4 or 5 – which currently includes the Rocky Mountain Area, Eastern Great Basin Area, and Southwest Area – and requiring regional or state level approval to initiate any new prescribed fire in all other geographic areas. These measures will remain in effect until the National Multi-Agency Coordinating group determines a national Preparedness Level 3 or below. On June 27th, NMAC raised the preparedness level to 4, on a scale of 1-5.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior, in partnerships with states and local agencies, have developed a cohesive strategy to respond to the increase in wildfires in recent years by focusing on:
- Restoring and maintaining resilient landscapes. Through forest and rangeland restoration activities such as mechanical thinning and controlled burns, officials can make forests healthier and less susceptible to catastrophic fire.
- Creating fire-adapted communities. The Forest Service, the Department of the Interior and their partners are working with communities to reduce fire hazards around houses to make them more resistant to wildfire threats.
- Responding to Wildfires. This element considers the full spectrum of fire management activities and recognizes the differences in missions among local, state, tribal and Federal agencies.
On average, the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior bureaus respond to about 16,500 wildfires per year that occur on land under their jurisdiction and assist state and local agencies in responding to a significant number of the approximately 60,000 wildfires per year that occur on land under their jurisdiction. Federal firefighters, aircraft, and ground equipment are strategically assigned to parts of the country as the fire season shifts across the nation. Firefighting experts will continuously monitor conditions and move these assets as necessary to be best positioned and increase initial response capabilities. In addition, federal agencies are conducting accelerated restoration activities nationwide aimed at healthier forests and reduced fire risks in the years to come.