WFLC Up to Their Old Tricks

The Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) is up to their old tricks, and catastrophic megafires are sure to follow.

The WFLC is a Federal Advisory Board that was established in April 2002 to implement and coordinate the National Fire Plan, the Ten-Year Strategy (a component of the National Fire Plan) and the Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy. They are the group that has promulgated whoofoos (wildland use fires or WFU’s).

For A Short History of the WFLC see [here].

The WFLC excludes the public and the press from their meetings. They do however seat deep-pocket lobby groups (non-governmental organizations or NGO’s) including the Nature Conservancy and the Wilderness Society. Federal funds were passed to these lobby groups through the WFLC. The lobby groups also provide a “revolving door” of high-paying positions to former government employees formerly seated on the WFLC.

During closed door meetings in 2008 the WFLC directed the five Federal land management agencies under their purview to adopt Appropriate Management Response (AMR) and Wildland Fire Use (WFU). The agencies did so without implementing any NEPA process, without public comment or review, and in violation of the lthe Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), the National Forest Management Act (NFMA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

As a result, numerous wildfires have been allowed to burn without aggressive suppression actions. Tremendous destruction and degradation of natural resource values has occurred [here].

Two days after I posted “A Short History” (above, March 15, 2010) the WFLC, reformed by Sec Interior Ken Salazar, had a meeting. They subsequently posted a brief summary of the minutes of that meeting [here].

Those March 17, 2010 minutes are the first the WFLC has posted in 2 years. An excerpt:

The WFLC agreed to adopt the Cohesive Strategy (CS) proposal in the comprehensive form, including the three components of Landscape Restoration, Fire-Adapted Communities, and Fire Response as presented. The 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review (QFR) and National Policy Framework Documents (A Call to Action, Mutual Expectations, and Roles and Responsibilities) will be the foundational documents from which the CS will be developed, and that “Risk” will be the “common currency” used for scientific evaluation and assessment of alternatives.

Before April 15, 2010, the WFLC members will be provided with details of this CS blueprint approach including, process structure, locations of workshop, categories of invitees, a plan for tribal consultation and how this will meet the requirements of the FLAME Act.

The WFLC will act as Board of Directors, oversee the invitation process, and ensure the development process is collaborative.

The CS Oversight Committee, Tom Harbour and Kirk Rowdabaugh, will send Cohesive Strategy development process details to Ryan Yates, Mike Carrier, Ann Walker, Caitlyn Pollihan, Bob Roper, and Jim Erickson. They will make suggestions about who to invite and locations for local workshops. Invitations will be based upon the principles of inclusiveness and diversity, including geographical, levels of government, non-government, and cultural. These people, including Kirk and Tom, will comprise the Cohesive Strategy Oversight Committee.

I am pretty sure I will NOT be invited to the invitation-only meetings.

Note that the WFLC has chosen the 2009 Quadrennial Fire Review (QFR) to guide their “Cohesive Strategy”. SOS Forests posts regarding the QFR are [here, here, here]. The entire QFR may be downloaded [here].

The QFR includes endorsement of the “Leave Early Or Stay And Defend” policy that resulted in 200 deaths and more than 2,000 homes incinerated in Australia in February 2009. It also includes endorsement of the expansion of wildland fire use (whoofoo’s). The QFR was supposed to be a speculative look ahead, not a policy guidance document. It was never subject to public review and was never “adopted” by policy makers. Yet here it is guiding policy — again without public input or public review.

Also noted in the March 17, 2010 WFLC minutes is yet another revision of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) authorizing the WFLC. They did not include the revisions in their posting. The MOU is the legal document that justifies inclusion of NGO’s at WFLC meetings and the exclusion of the public. It would probably require a FOIA request to obtain that document, but there is no guarantee that the WFLC will obey a FOIA request. They do not feel they have to obey other Federal laws.

The fire community is philosophically divorced and estranged from the forest community. The fire people do what they do without consideration for the multiple values that form the foundation of forest stewardship and management such as timber, wildlife, water, soils, recreation, etc., and without consideration of the laws that guide forest management such as ESA, NEPA, MU-SY, NFMA, HFRA, etc.

Fire “management” is on its own separate track, seemingly above the law in many ways. That leads to huge conflicts, catastrophes, megafires, and circumvention of forest management goals, as well as a plethora of activities that are more or less illegal. The WFLC thumbs it nose at many laws, not just FACA and APA.

Dr. Stephen J. Pyne wrote two excellent essays that W.I.S.E. has posted about the widening gap between fire management and forest management. They are apropos and very much worth reading:

The Wrath of Kuhn [here]

Friendly Fire [here]

The WFLC typifies government at its worst: exclusionary, elitist, above the law, corrupt, and hugely destructive. Our forests, watersheds, homes, and very lives are put at risk whenever the WFLC meets. The “Risk” that is their “common currency” is yours and mine, not theirs.

Be prepared to flee your homes the next time a fire erupts on Federal land. Whether you live in a small town like New Harmony, Utah, or a big city like Los Angeles, when the fire community guided by the WFLC decides to burn you out, they will, without a second thought.

15 Apr 2010, 4:21pm
by YPmule

Enjoyed reading “Friendly Fire” - will pass it along.



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