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Dale Swedberg Chairman North Central Washington Prescribed Fire Council

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Title: Dale Swedberg Chairman North Central Washington Prescribed Fire Council


1
Introduction
  • North Central Washington Prescribed Fire Council
    representing individuals and organizations
    recognizing the need for prescribed fire as a
    land management tool and prescribed burning as a
  • landowner right and responsibility.
  • Letters of Support from
  • Washington State Conservation Commission
  • Okanogan County Board of Commissioners
  • Conservation Northwest
  • Okanogan County Cattlemens Association
  • Washington Cattlemens Association
  • USDI - Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Okanogan Conservation District
  • Whitestone Reclamation District
  • Okanogan Valley Land Council
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Washington Forest Protection Association
  • USDA Forest Service (FS) Okanogan-Wenatchee
    National Forest
  • Backcountry Horsemen Okanogan Valley Chapter
  • Chelan Douglas Land Trust
  • Landowners of the Havillah Community Wildfire
    Protection Plan Area (CWPPA)

2
In addition to organizations providing a letter
of support other organizations are participating
on the NCW PFC Steering Committee Including
Port District of Chelan County WSU Cooperative
Extension Washington State Parks Washington Farm
Forestry Washington Department of Natural
Resources Washington Department of Fish
Wildlife North Central Washington Fire Chiefs
Association Natural Resource Conservation Service
Private landowners managers
3
Respectfully Request LegislaturetoSupport
EffortstoIncrease the Use of Prescribed
FireinWashington State
Specific help or needs - Increase Capacity for
prescribed (Rx) fire in Washington State -
Limit Liability related to Rx burning and damage
from fire and smoke - Clarify policy, laws and
rules regarding fire, prescribed fire and
prescribed fire smoke - Assist in
increasing general public understanding and
acceptance of Rx fire
4
Increase Capacity to Use Prescribed Fire
  • Additional detail regarding requested support
  • Capacity for prescribed (Rx) fire in Washington
    State
  • Today only DNR, BLM, USFS, USFWS, BIA, NPS have
    resources and capacity to conduct Rx burning and
    it is restricted primarily to their own lands,
    with limited alternatives for private lands
  • Certification program to certify/decertify Rx
    burn managers to provide a source of qualified
    (trained in Rx burn techniques and smoke
    management) people to conduct Rx burns on private
    lands as well as other lands if and when needed
    Contract firefighters
  • Certification program to certify Rx burns/burn
    plans

5
Liability
  • Additional detail regarding requested support
  • Liability related to Rx burning and damage from
    fire and smoke
  • Legislated indemnification for Rx burn managers
    with burden of proof at gross negligence level
  • Affordable insurance for Rx burn managers

6
Unclear and confusing state policy, laws and
rules regarding fire and smoke
  • Additional detail regarding requested support
  • Unclear and confusing state policy, laws, and
    rules regarding fire and smoke in general
  • Burn permits issued by local fire districts, DNR,
    DOE, Clean Air Authority
  • Two different state agencies and one federal
    agency deal with smoke
  • A flow chart is needed to assist landowners
    wanting to conduct Rx burns on their property
  • Currently there is no oversight for rangelands
    who provides fire protection, who issues burn
    permits?

7
General Public Understanding and Acceptance of Rx
Fire
  • Additional detail regarding requested support
  • Over 64 years of Smokey the Bear messages that
    fire is bad
  • Public needs to understand that
  • No Fire is Not an Option
  • No Smoke is Not an Option
  • There are many benefits of ecologically
    appropriate fire
  • North Central Washington Prescribed Fire Council
    (NCW PFC) or a Washington State PFC can serve as
    a collective voice of many (Federal, Tribal,
    State, County, City, NGO, private organizations)
    to educate the public about Rx fire and the
    benefits of Rx fire
  • Ecosystems are not defined by the objects they
    contain, e.g., plants and animals, but by the
    processes that regulate and sustain them, e.g.,
    fire, weather, succession.
  • There is no Balance of Nature rather a Flux of
    Nature a constant state of change
  • Fire dependent ecosystems need fire and are
    dysfunctional without fire

8
Good Fire vs. Bad Fire
  Fire is an Ecological Imperative -        As
long as there is life, which produces the fuels,
there will always be fire -        Become masters
of fire or continue to be at the mercy of
wildland fire  
9
Fire Dependent Ecosystems
  • Ponderosa pine historically frequent low
    severity fires
  • South Sound Prairie historically frequent low
    severity fires
  • Oak pine woodlands historically frequent low
    severity fires
  • Lodgepole pine historically infrequent high
    severity or stand replacing fire
  • Shrub-steppe historically infrequent stand
    replacing fires
  • Mixed conifer mixed severity fires

10
History Fire and Man
Indians Native Americans understood the value
of fire and used fire accordingly to create
favored foraging areas for game animals, promote
growth to cultural and economic importance, e.g.,
berries, tubers, seeds, nuts, bulbs for food
stems, roots, bark for basketry, twine and rope
clearing and keeping land cleared of brush to
maintain openings for hunting, travel and
visibility rejuvenation and renewal of
vegetation for maintenance of diverse mosaic of
plant communities on the landscape Historic
Policy, particularly in the last century, has
been total fire suppression Allowing wildfires to
burn or conducting prescribed burning was
considered wasteful of vegetation that
livestock could eat or trees that would someday
grow into harvestable timber Smokey the
Bear Demon Fire Bambi Facts are facts, but
perception is reality despite the increased
visibility of wildfires (national news) wildfire
prevention and protection efforts (Firewise,
Smokey the Bear) people continue to buy (parcels
of former ranches and timber lands) and move in
to fire prone areas
11
Present Conditions
High fuel loads needing restructuring and
reduction Ineffectiveness in applying Rx fire
laws prohibiting burning on weekends and
holidays difficult to get assistance (advice)
for Rx burning DNR testified that Rx fire is a
cost effective tool for fuels and forest
management National Fire Plan Washington State
Forest Health Plan  2007 Washington State
Legislature passed SB 6141
12
Forest Health Report to Washington State
Legislature
2004 Forest Health Strategy Work Group report A
Desirable Forest Health Program For Washingtons
Forests REPORT PREPARED IN RESPONSE TO SECOND
SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 6144
  • Page 9 - A great deal of effort is currently
    being expended to remedy forest health problems.
  • Federal land management agencies have
    implemented several administrative changes
  • aimed at restoring forest health as
    prescribed by the Presidents Healthy Forest
  • Initiative (HFI) and the Healthy Forest
    restoration Act (HFRA).
  • In FY 2004 the Confederated Tribes of the
    Colville Reservation treated 6,047 acres
  • of hazardous fuel treatments with
    prescribed fire.
  • Bold added for emphasis

13
Forest Health Report to Washington State
Legislature(page 9 continued)
2004 Forest Health Strategy Work Group report A
Desirable Forest Health Program For Washingtons
Forests REPORT PREPARED IN RESPONSE TO SECOND
SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 6144
  • Almost all of these treatments were in
    designated Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)
  • areas. Over the next five years they
    plan to treat about 10,000 acres per year, of
  • which 80 will be within the WUI and
    approximately 50 percent of the acreage
  • will be mechanically treated.
  • In FY 2004 the Okanogan and Wenatchee National
    Forests (NF) completed 22,577
  • acres of hazardous fuels treatments.
    Treatments were approximately 50 percent
  • mechanical, 50 percent prescribed fire
    on the Wenatchee NF and approximately
  • 33 percent mechanical 67 percent
    prescribed fire on the Okanogan NF.
  • Bold added for emphasis

14
Forest Health Report to Washington State
Legislature(continued)
2004 Forest Health Strategy Work Group report A
Desirable Forest Health Program For Washingtons
Forests REPORT PREPARED IN RESPONSE TO SECOND
SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 6144
pg 14 - "The Forest Protection statutes should
be changed to hold landowners
responsible for reducing extreme accumulations of
fuels, regardless of how the condition developed.
Fire ecology is the key to restoring proper
forest health. Forest managed for resistance to
fire damage will also resist damage by native
insects, disease organisms, and extreme weather
conditions with the additional advantage of
protecting fish, wildlife, watersheds, and other
public resources." Bold added for emphasis
15
Forest Health Report to Washington State
Legislature(continued)
2004 Forest Health Strategy Work Group report A
Desirable Forest Health Program For Washingtons
Forests REPORT PREPARED IN RESPONSE TO SECOND
SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 6144
page. 23 - Prescribed fire can be an effective
method to reduce fire and insect risk, manage
smoke emissions, restore some fire resistant
forest overstory types, and improve soil
nutrition and forest health. If periodic
prescribed fire is not possible, then the success
of this plan may be jeopardized and not fully
achievable. Current state implementation of the
Clean Air Act substantially limits the potential
for using prescribed fire through the daily
permission requirements and standards. Bold and
underline added for emphasis
16
Forest Health Report to Washington State
Legislature (continued)
2004 Forest Health Strategy Work Group report A
Desirable Forest Health Program For Washingtons
Forests REPORT PREPARED IN RESPONSE TO SECOND
SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 6144
page 23 Recommendation The legislature
consider directing coordinated changes to the
statewide smoke management plan that would
encourage maximum use of silvicultural burning
where appropriate for forest health improvement.
The direction should address areas where the
state smoke management plan is more stringent
than the National Clean Air Act and allow brief
exceedence of standards to alleviate future
wildfire events that are uncontrolled and have a
greater, more prolonged impact on the
public. Bold and underline added for emphasis
17
Forest Health Strategy Work Group Report to the
Legislature December 2006
page 4 - The Work Group feels the draft
legislation appropriately requests the Forest
Practices Board evaluate their rules in the
context of providing for forest health. We also
believe prescribed fire should be promoted as a
valuable tool for achieving forest health.
However, smoke management actions must be
coordinated among agencies to address issues
related to prescribed burning and human health.
After discussion with Department of Natural
Resources and Department of Ecology, it appears
that some of the issues related to limitations on
silvicultural burning and burning for forest
health purposes may be resolved through
administrative means. We urge DNR, DOE, and the
Legislature to continue to make progress on this
important issue. Bold added for emphasis
18
Forest Health Strategy Work Group Report to the
Legislature December 2006 (continued)
Pages 38-41 Appendix 4 Table 1 Opportunities and
Barriers to Implementation of a Forest Health
Strategy for Washington State. Barriers below
are specific to the Opportunity of Prescribed
Fire Costs Not feasible on small parcels
Loss of sustainable economic return Regen is
destroyed during repeated overstory
maintenance burns Lack of capacity (FTE's,
people, skill sets, funding) We are losing our
skill set in prescribed fire. Liability
exposure All groups face high
risk with prescribed burn Parcelization (land
ownership pattern) Small landowners find
prescribed fire cost prohibitive and
administratively difficult Lack of education on
the benefits Beneficiaries may not be aware of
either benefits or their costs
19
Forest Health Strategy Work Group Report to the
Legislature December 2006 (continued)
Regulations RMZ/owl circle protection. Smoke
caps. Implementation of regs Unintended
consequences Proximity to human populations
Smoke and fire Clean air act implementation
Remove the '0' tolerance approach and allow
federal guidelines to prevail Hot fires
(i.e. damaging fires because of high fuel loads)
Risk too high until ladder fuels are
removed Smoke Especially close to urban
centers Lack of spatial data Harder to
prioritize Lack of inventory data Can't design
reliable treatments
20
Basic Truths to Remember
  • No Fire is not an Option
  • No Smoke is not an Option
  • Wildfire is a War
  • Prescribed (Rx) Fire is a Tool
  • Prescribed fire is a wildfire prevention tool
  • More Prescribed fire means fewer severe wildfires
  • Prescribed fire is the fire of choice

21
A Review
Prescribed fire is an essential tool for managing
forest and rangeland landscapes and natural
resources. Fire is an integral part of the
ecosystem, particularly fire-dependent ecosystems.
The support and action of the legislature is
needed to provide incentive based programs to
encourage use of prescribed fire
  • Specifically to increase prescribed burning
  • Smoke management policy needs to be
    addressed to allow
  • increased prescribed burning.
  • Policies that are disincentives to
    prescribed burning need addressed,
  • e.g., state liability laws, hard to
    understand laws, multi-agency
  • regulation vs. one-stop shopping
  • Public understanding and acceptance of
    prescribed burning needs to
  • be addressed.

22
Thank you for your Time and Attention
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