Prescribed Burning in Colorado’s Front Range: An After Action Review

Colorado Springs Utilities employees prepare for the broadcast burn by digging line and reducing fuels on the edges of the units. Photo Credit: Colorado Springs Utilities

Written By: Jonathan Bruno, Operations Director, Coalition for the Upper South Platte As is the case with many of our plans; things changed. I had hoped to write a blog post, heavily laden with smiley faced pictures of fire fighters and smoke billowing off the hill slopes. Instead, due to weather, property owner concessions, burn restrictions and more weather, the team has pulled the plug on our planned burns with the hope of getting them completed next year. I should note that all is not lost, and I do have some interesting items to share regarding our planning process and … Continue reading

Study Examines New Type of Wildfire Health Impact

wallow wildfire arizona

Written By: Sarah McCaffrey and Wendy Fulks A new journal article by David Eisenman, Sarah McCaffrey, Ian Donatello and Grant Marshall investigates how Arizona’s 2011 Wallow Fire affected the psychological health of part-time and permanent residents of five communities. Investigators were interested in the contribution of “solastalgia,” the loss of solace from the landscape, to residents’ psychological distress one year after the wildfire. Higher levels of solastalgia were associated with self-reported indicators of clinically significant psychological distress. Interestingly, there was no difference between part-time and permanent residents in the likelihood of experiencing psychological distress. FAC Net sat down with Sarah … Continue reading

Early Lessons from the Washington Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network

Washington Network Steering Committee. Credit: WA FAC Network

Written By: Annie Schmidt, Ryan Anderson, Reese Lolley and Michelle Medley-Daniel As many participants from the 2014 Colorado Springs Fire Adapted Communities/Fire Learning Network annual workshop will recall, the folks from Washington could often be found after sessions meeting in hallways, scribbling frantically on napkins, conversing animatedly over an indecipherable flip-chart full of colors and a rough outline of Washington State, talking about opportunities and needs. That was in the spring of 2014. That was before. Before the Carlton Complex wildfire took almost 350 homes. Before the Sleepy Hollow and Chelan Complex wildfires burned into two more communities. Before the wettest … Continue reading

Working with Communities to Reduce Wildfire Risk Through Planning

FAC "sunrise" graphic.

Many of us are likely to be familiar with the “fire adapted communities sunrise graphic.” This illustration was first provided by the USDA Forest Service to illustrate the many different tools, programs and actions that communities can use to help them become more fire adapted. My own illustration of the FAC sunrise graphic (see image left) has since expanded to include more topics (such as post-fire recovery, watershed management and research in the wildland-urban interface) based on practitioner feedback. One “ray” on the graphic that has remained somewhat abstract, however, is the concept of codes, ordinances and plans. While in … Continue reading

Managing Northeastern Pine Barrens for People and Nature


Last week I had the opportunity to join dozens of fire and land managers and research scientists from the Northeastern U.S. in the New Jersey Pinelands for a 2½-day workshop. Few people know about the natural treasure that is the Pinelands, a National Reserve that covers 1.1 million acres, or 22 percent of the land area of New Jersey. Due to the nature and condition of the vegetation, and the influx of new residents, the wildland-urban interface problems in this region rival those anywhere in the country. Perhaps that is why Bill Brash (New Jersey Fire Safety Council) and I … Continue reading

Backyards and Beyond Conference 2015

FAC Network folks gathered for a night out at a local brewery. Photo Caption: Molly Mowry

This year’s Backyards and Beyond conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina gave a group of FAC Network folks the opportunity to share their insights and network with wildfire colleagues from across the country. The following network members presented: Pam Wilson (FireWise of Southwest Colorado), Ed Keith (Project Wildfire, Deschutes County) and others discussed best practices for maintaining and growing a fire adapted community program. Frank Riley (Chestatee/Chattahoochee RC&D), Mike Davis (Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest) and others presented on the importance of collaboration in fire adapted communities. Jerry McAdams (Boise Fire Department) and Justice Jones (Austin Fire Department) highlighted their recent FAC … Continue reading

FAC Network Informing Policymakers From the Ground Up

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (March 2012 hearing). Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons, Flickr user CSIS

The Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network (FAC Net) is designed to facilitate learning across communities and organizations spanning the diversity of ecological, cultural and institutional environments around the country. At the same time, FAC Net is charged with aggregating what we learn about the community-led practice of fire adaptation up to the scale of policymakers and agency leaders, parlaying how national assistance programs, incentives and regulations are both facilitating and impeding their work, and how they might be changed to better support the growth of fire adapted communities nationwide. As a member of the FAC Net staff team, I was … Continue reading

Lessons Learned from a Successful Year of FAC Outreach

The Chipper Day contractor had to hire additional help to remove/chip all the slash that homeowners collected this year. Photo credit: Gloria Erickson.

Written By: Gloria Erickson, Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator, Dovetail Partners, Inc. – Ely, MN The morning of our first Firewise Demonstration Day, I wondered, “Is anybody going to show up?” I had learned many lessons from our first Chipper Day the previous year (June 2014). Make sure the landowners want to participate. Just because the CWPP indicates a high-risk area doesn’t mean the landowners recognize the risk, or know how, or even want to do anything about it. Get buy-in well before the fire season. January was when I began. Jeff Jackson, our regional Firewise Specialist, and I had given a … Continue reading