Friday, June 19, 2015

Wesley Fire Staff Ride

Wesley Fire Staff Ride
(Jason Greenway, PAF, leading the emergency consultations that were put into place during suppression operations on the 2012 Wesley Fire; credit: Dana Skelly)
Wesley Fire Staff Ride Overview
September 2015

In July 2014, the Payette National Forest (PAF) was contacted by Dana Skelly, Fuels Program Manager for the Malheur National Forest, inquiring about the potential for conducting a resource advisor (READ) staff ride for the Wesley Fire. Dana was a task force leader (TFLD) on the rehab/recovery division of the Wesley Fire and was impressed by the READ program on the PAF. The Malheur experienced a busy fire season in 2014, with multiple “project” fires and a need for an extensive group of READs. The majority of the READs on the Malheur were fairly new and their program was not as well developed as the one on the PAF.

On September 30, 2014, a group of approximately 15 from the Malheur made a 1-day visit to the PAF. The day was led by J. Greenway, an experienced PAF READ and member of the PAF READ cadre and line/duty officers were represented by G. Lesch and C. Ramirez respectively.

The Preliminary Study
The group convened at the Council Ranger District, where they were presented an overview of the PAF READ program in general, followed by an overview of the Wesley Fire and the resource issues that arose during that incident. 

Main topics discussed included:

  • Overview of the PAF READ program and the tools we have developed, including our READ maps, READ guidelines, and fireline-friendly pocket guides
  • Overview of the Wesley Fire chronology and the resource concerns that arose during the incident
  • Use of heavy equipment in bull trout critical habitat: consultation procedures and mitigation measures
  • Discussion of implementing a rehab division as part of the IMT, and the benefits to the Forest and the incident READs
The Field Study
The group visited the Bear Creek portion of the Wesley Fire, with stops at the Bear Workcenter and the fire area in the upper part of the Bear Creek subwatershed to discuss specific resource concerns that developed during the incident. Greg Lesch and Christian Ramirez also provided insight to the incident, and large incidents in general, from the line/duty officer perspective.

The Integration Phase
Personnel from the Malheur were eager to learn from our READ program and began developing their own READ resources and guidelines when they returned to their respective home units. All involved were very appreciative of the time we spent to share our information and experiences with them. The staff ride was a great opportunity to build relationships across forests/regions and to share information, knowledge, and challenges that are associated with the READ position. This may also lead to cross-forest assignments that would provide off-forest experience and training for READs from both forests.

No comments: