During recent years, wildfire behavior and wildfire extent, have significantly increased and have been accompanied by dramatic increases in risk to responders and citizens, home and property losses, costs, and threats to communities and landscapes. To better prepare for and address this situation, a National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy was developed to comprehensively address wildland fire management across all lands in the United States. The Cohesive Strategy sets broad, strategic, and national-level direction as a foundation for implementing actions and activities nationwide.
Three components are identified to ensure successful implementation:
• Strategic alignment, where all parties agree to the same goals, principles, and strategic course of action;
• Collaborative engagement, which includes governance, shared information and resources, communications, and monitoring and accountability; and
• Programmatic alignment, where individual agency or organization objectives are explicitly supportive of the national cohesive strategy goals.
We may consider ourselves well positioned for such a challenge. Our knowledge of many areas of fire management pertaining to the physical fire environment, fuels and fire behavior, ecological interactions, science and technology, management strategies and tactics, risk management, community protection, and collaborative processes has never been greater. At no time in history have wildland fire management agencies, organizations, and stakeholders had more science, technology, knowledge, and experience in all aspects of wildland fire. However, some implementation is still heavily weighted toward past experience, repeated practices, and historic templates that are not maximizing capability and accomplishments, and implementation is not always based on the incorporation of the best available science.
At the beginning and throughout all stages of planning and development of the national strategy, science was at the center of both the vision statement and goals. Continued advancement and accomplishment of Cohesive Strategy goals hinge on reinforcing the importance of science in implementation activities and improving mechanisms to facilitate science integration with implementation.