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Building a Cohesive Strategy

The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy) effort was designed as a three-phased process to allow for inclusiveness and understanding of the complexities of managing wildfire risks across the country. Throughout the entire effort, environments were created to foster and sustain stakeholder engagement and increase collaboration between federal, state and local governments and partner organizations. The best available science was used to develop a National Cohesive Strategy that will help guide the future of wildland fire management.

Cohesive Strategy Vision

To safely and effectively extinguish fire, when needed; use fire where allowable; manage our natural resources; and as a Nation, live with wildland fire.

Cohesive Strategy Goals

  1. Restore and Maintain Landscapes
  2. Fire-Adapted Communities
  3. Response to Wildfire

Foundational Documents

Phase I - The Blueprint

The first phase of the Cohesive Strategy worked as a blueprint for developing a wildland fire strategy that would not be limited to Federal lands, but would consider the needs of all lands and balance regional needs and perspectives with national planning.

Phase I set up the following leadership and engagement structure for creating the strategy:

  • Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) − strategic oversight of all wildland fire policies, goals and management activities.
  • Wildland Fire Executive Council (WFEC) – an intergovernmental Federal Advisory Committee Act committee established to advise the Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of the Interior on national policy issues, including the Cohesive Strategy.
  • Cohesive Strategy Subcommittee (CSSC) − created to advise the WFEC on Cohesive Strategy development and implementation.
  • Phase 2 Regions: map of the United States showing regions with different colors.
    Three regions were identified by the WFEC: Northeast, Southeast, and West.

    West Region area: continental U.S. states West Region area: Alaska and Hawaii Southeast Region: continental U.S. states. Southeast Region area: Puerto Rico Northeast Region
    Three Regional Strategy Committees (RSC) − created to advise the WFEC, to represent the regional perspectives, and to complete regional assessments and action plans in Phases II and III.
  • The National Science and Analysis Team (NSAT) – created to advise the CSSC and WFEC, to complete the science and analyses necessary for completing Phases II and III, and to document science findings in established peer-review processes.

In this way, the Cohesive Strategy was conceived as having both a top-down and bottom-up flow of information. The first phase involved developing a mutual understanding of the national challenges and goals and the science-based process for analyzing regional and national needs.

Phase I concluded with the presentation of the blueprint to Congress in two documents:

The NSAT completed a Risk Framework Report:

Phase II - Regional Assessments

In Phase II, the three regions—the Northeast, the Southeast, and the West—completed, analyzed, and compiled regional assessments including landscape elements, ecological processes, and human values of local resources. They agreed upon regional goals, which mirrored the national goals. The regions focused on how the processes of wildland fire, or the absence of fire, affect their values-at-risk. The NSAT worked with the regions to develop the assessments.

Regional Assessments

Phase III - Science-based Risk Analysis Reports and Action Plans

Phase III is the conclusion of the planning and development of the National Strategy and the National Action Plan. There were three distinct sets of milestones. The first part of Phase III focused on regional understanding and analysis of issues by the RSCs. The NSAT collected data from multiple sources to provide consistent information to the regions for their analysis of wildfire risk. The regions considered alternatives for emphasis, and the WFEC submitted and accepted Risk Analysis Reports.

Regional Risk Analysis Reports

Regional Action Plans

Regional Action Plans looked at the issues identified in the Risk Analysis Reports and devised specific actions, tasks, and responsible agencies to accomplish those actions.

The National Strategy: The Final Phase in the Development of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy

The National Strategy represents the culmination of three phases of planning and analysis of a collaborative effort by Federal, state, local, and tribal governments, non-governmental partners, and public stakeholders. The report combines findings from the three regional assessments to provide a national perspective based on scientific data analysis.

Working in conjunction with scientific data analysis, The National Strategy establishes broad, strategic national-level direction as a foundation for implementing programs and activities across the nation. Based on a landscape-level collaborative approach, describing how the Nation can focus future efforts in making strategic investments to reduce the severe effects of wildfire on areas of high risk.

The National Science Analysis of the Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy) represents the culmination of an innovative national approach to address the increasingly complex reality of wildland fire management in the United States. This website provides information and data from the science analysis, where the user can access the products used and created by the National Science Analysis Team (NSAT) to develop the comprehensive, science-based cohesive strategy.