Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Fire in Wilderness Management Workshop
Alaska Region, April 1, 2005
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Staff from the Division of Natural Resources and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge hosted a Fire Management in Wilderness Workshop in January, 2005 to develop fire management strategies in Wilderness areas.

Focusing on law, regulations, and policy affecting our fire management in Wilderness, and participating in lively discussions based on real scenarios, action items were generated by participants to help the Region's Fire Management Program grow and improve how we manage prescribed fires, wildfires, and fire use in the Wilderness settings. Criteria for prescribed burning in Wilderness is being developed taking into account Minimum Requirements Analyses, and Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation activities. The group identified the need to establish a Fire Use Module in Alaska in cooperation of the Alaska Interagency Wildland Fire Coordination Group.

The workshop clarified issues relating to Alaska's Wilderness resources and fire situations: 1) Human caused fire will be suppressed in every instance and not used for resource benefit or managed as fire use. In Alaska, we may monitor, use point protection, or take other actions short of full suppression. 2) A Fish & Wildlife Service goal for prescribed burning in Wilderness is to try to re-establish fire processes in areas where we have suppressed fire in the past. 3) Situations identified for using prescribed fire in Wilderness are: To protect T& E species; To get rid of invasive species; For structure protection; To restore or allow natural wildland fire processes that have been excluded (historic fire suppression). 4) Categorical Exclusions may be used for prescribed burns following established protocols under a signed fire management plan. 5) National Fire Policy requires a Wildland Fire Implementation Plan for wildland fire use. The fire must be the result of a natural event. The WFIP identifies and addresses resource issues and values including Wilderness.

The response to the workshop was so positive, the Division of Natural Resources intends to sponsor a second workshop in Fairbanks next year focusing on issues common to the interior refuges.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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