Coordinating Wildland Fire Management: Insights from Bryan Rice, Former Director, Office of Wildland Fire, U.S. Department of the Interior

 

Coordinating Wildland Fire Management: Insights from Bryan Rice, Former Director, Office of Wildland Fire, U.S. Department of the Interior

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 - 15:08
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Wildland fire plays an essential role in the ecological process because it acts as a natural change agent.

But in the past two decades, controlling it has become much harder. A rapid increase in difficult wildfire behavior, accompanied by a significant rise in risks to responders and citizens, losses to home and property, soaring costs, and threats to communities and landscapes all act as obstacles to efficient wildland fire control. Fire management decisions are based on the best available science, knowledge, and experience, and are used to evaluate risk versus gain. These decisions take on even greater importance as the challenges facing fire management grow more complex.

Wildland fire management responsibilities are characterized by a patchwork of jurisdictions and ownership and often more than one agency may be involved in managing wildland fire incidents. It is the result of collaboration, partnerships, and cooperation among states and federal fire management agencies. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire (OWF) is one such agency that plays an integral role in the nation’s response to today’s wildland fire challenges.

What role does fire play in shaping natural resource land management? How does OWF achieve its mission? And what’s being done to reduce the risk to first responders and the public? Bryan Rice, former Director of OWF, joined me on The Business of Government Hour while still director to share his insights on these topics and more. The following is an edited excerpt of our discussion, complemented by additional research.

Editor’s note: Since this conversation and profile, Bryan has been appointed Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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