Mid-Plains Interagency Fire Management Zone Receives Midwest Regional Fire Management Award
For Immediate Release
November 18, 2014
OMAHA, Neb.—The Fire Management staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Region 6, Prairie Zone Refuges, located within the State of Kansas and Southern Nebraska-Kansas, have been named the winners of the annual Midwest Regional Fire Management Award which is conferred by the Fire Management staff of the National Park Service (NPS), Midwest Region. The USFWS Fire Management staff are members of the Mid-Plains Interagency Fire Management Zone, based out of the Quiviria National Wildlife Refuge in Stafford, Kansas, and are part of an interagency team comprised of employees from the USFWS and NPS. Assistant Fire Management Officer, Deon Steinle, from Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge, accepted the award on the group’s behalf from NPS Midwest Region Fire & Aviation Management Officer, Jim McMahill, during a recent site visit to Marias des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge in Pleasanton, Kansas, October 6, 2014.
Known as a "Service First" agreement, reflecting the public law on which it is based, the agreement allows the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to exchange resources and share equipment across jurisdictional boundaries. As part of this “Service First” agreement, the USFWS Fire Management staff of the Mid-Plains Interagency Fire Management Zone provide fire management oversight and guidance to five National Park Service units located in the state of Kansas: Brown vs. the Board of Education National Historic Site, Fort Larned National Historic Site, Fort Scott National Historic Site, Nicodemus National Historic Site, and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
There are four National Wildlife Refuges located in Kansas: Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge, Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge, Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge, and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. With their proximity to the NPS sites, it allows for efficient use of government resources. The Mid-Plains Interagency Fire Management Zone also includes a Wetland Management District in Nebraska and six National Wildlife Refuges in Colorado.
“The uniforms we wear may be different, but as employees of the Department of the Interior, we are all working towards the same goal, restoring and maintaining the native grasslands and ecosystems found in the state,” said Quiviria National Wildlife Refuge, Fire Management Officer, Bill Waln. “When we put on our firefighting gear, we all look and same and we are all working towards that common goal.”
Jim McMahill, Regional Fire & Aviation Management Officer for the NPS Midwest Region agrees, “The fuels and topography of each [USFWS] refuge and NPS site vary, but their location to each other within the state allows for effective resource sharing and collaboration from all the parks.” Adding, “By streamlining administrative tasks and developing common business practices, we have shown over the past few years that these agreements can be a cost-saving alternative to both agencies.”
Since 2009, when the first agreement was signed, the Mid-Plains Interagency Fire Management Zone has shown excellence in collaboration, efficiency and teamwork. Since then, the number of fuels projects and total acres burned using prescribed fires at the park units located in Kansas, have increased. This is due in part to their attention to detail and willingness to focus on the needs of the entire landscape.
This annual Midwest Regional Office Fire Management Award is presented to the park unit or group in the 13-state Midwest Region, which shows success in “Outstanding Fire Management Accomplishments.” This is the first time in the 12-year history of the trophy that it has been given to an interagency partner.
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