Months after multiple wildfires raced through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, burning 1.6 million acres, government leaders are promising a more coordinated approach to land management.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan K. Zinke met in Boise, Idaho, at the National Incident Fire Command Center (NIFC) for a tour and briefing on the upcoming wildfire season. Following the events, the secretaries sent a memorandum to wildland fire leadership highlighting the importance of inter-departmental collaboration in protecting communities and managing public lands. In the memorandum, Perdue and Zinke stressed the need for working together as they anticipate the 2017 wildfire season to be “another challenging year” saying:
“The Departments of the Interior and Agriculture will improve the way that both agencies manage wildfires by ensuring that all of our firefighting assets are utilized in the most efficient way possible. It is critical that firefighters have the right tools, resources, and flexibility to allow them to do their jobs safely and effectively. We look forward to working with leaders in both Agencies along with our state and local partners to explore opportunities to improve our operational efficiency and take advantage of the firefighting infrastructure and assets that are currently in place. We will also continue to integrate science and technology into all of our firefighting and to capitalize on other advancements to better inform and support our firefighting capabilities.
“Our success will be defined by how well we meet our obligations and how efficiently we use our resources and the management tools available to us. By keeping our employees and the public safe from harm or loss, by effectively suppressing unwanted fire, and by doing everything we can to improve the health of our landscapes, we will be successful.”