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The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fire Management Program is responsible for protecting and restoring lands in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and Pacific Islands territories.

Service Employees Travel Home from Australia

April 2009

After heading to Victoria, Australia in February and March to assist with record breaking wildfire activity, five Service employees returned to the United States. Four were deployed to complete specialized 30-day assignments.

John Saltenberger, FWS Pacific Region Fire Meteorologist, provided 24-hour staffing to the Regional Forecast Center located in Melbourne, Australia. Accurate weather information is critical to firefighter safety.

Doug Downs, Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), North Dakota, served as an Operations Section Chief for his tour providing direct fireline supervision to firefighters and heavy equipment working on the fire.

Ken Griggs, San Luis NWR, California and Lisa Jameson, Loxahatchee NWR, Florida, both worked as part of a team to analyze the impact of the fires on natural resources and to assist with burned area rehabilitation.

FWS Fire Director Brian McManus also traveled to Victoria to represent U.S. national wildfire decisionmakers and meet with international counterparts. He participated in a close-out briefing for American personnel and toured fire areas and facilities in Victoria as part of an opportunity for fire leaders in Australia and the United States to share ideas.

The post-assignment close-out took place in Melbourne on March 13. Coordination will continue between the two nations. Chris Wilcox, Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico, is expected to travel later this spring to Australia and New Zealand as one of two representatives from the Department of the Interior on a fire management study.

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