Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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AK REFUGES: Fire Training via Video-Conference Saves Thousands of Dollars
Alaska Region, February 15, 2011
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Location of class participants
Location of class participants - Photo Credit: n/a
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Fire management personnel and biologists from across Alaska attended Resource Advisor (READ) training on February 15, 2011 to learn how to best guide suppression personnel on protecting sensitive habitats and other values, such as cultural resources, during wildfires.  Incident Management Teams and fire crews working on a fire often come from different parts of the country and are unfamiliar with special habitat and wildlife considerations they may encounter in Alaska, or the various resource mandates for different agencies.  For example, bulldozer lines should not be constructed on permafrost sites as removal of insulating vegetation will cause the permafrost to melt, resulting in a mucky quagmire that can persist for years.  READs also provide information on habitat for threatened and endangered species, location of private land, preferred methods for reclamation of fire lines, and other rehabilitation needs.  As one presenter pointed out, READs are also used for other incidents such as hurricanes and oil spills. 


Thirty-six people attended the training, but only 22 were at the same location; the rest attended via video-conference.  Instructors and the majority of the attendees were located in Fairbanks, AK.  Other people were located in Anchorage (5 people), McGrath (2), Bethel (3), Dillingham (1), Juneau (1), and Denali National Park (2).  Participants were from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the State of Alaska, and the Tanana Chiefs Conference.  Video content alternated between speakers and Powerpoint presentations as needed, and all attendees were able to ask questions and initiate discussion regardless of location.  It is estimated that the Fish and Wildlife Service saved at least $5,400 in flight costs alone, not to mention savings in lodging and per diem costs and reduction of time spent in transit.  A quick poll at the end of the full-day class indicated that people thought the video-conferencing worked well and was a valuable tool.

Contact Info: Lisa Saperstein, 9077863422, lisa_saperstein@fws.gov
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