The Annual Cohesive Strategy Workshops
The National Workshops were conceived to help stakeholders understand the Cohesive Strategy and see themselves as part of the solutions to wildland fire issues across the nation. The Workshops helped to build and strengthen relationships, support Cohesive Strategy activities, and facilitate Cohesive Strategy implementation.
The first workshop was held in Reno, Nevada in 2017 with the theme of “All Hands All Lands: Implementation Rooted in Science”. This first gathering focused entirely on the Cohesive Strategy – what it means and what early implementation success looked like. Presentations and discussions emphasized the role of science in supporting implementation and identified processes to ensure science integration in all planning.
In 2018, the second annual workshop, also held in Reno, Nevada, with the theme of “Making a Difference; Building Capacity, Improving Preparedness, and Learning from Experience” provided plenty of important learning, including:
- a clearer understanding of what the Cohesive Strategy is and its importance in planning and implementation
- opportunities to learn from past experiences in implementing the Strategy
- highlights of nationwide accomplishments including improving preparedness and overcoming barriers for wildland fire management challenges around planning, collaboration, scale, management options and policy.
A third workshop convened stakeholders from all levels in Plymouth, Massachusetts under the theme of “Our Journey to the New Wildland Fire Paradigm”. This workshop highlighted many accomplishments and strong relationships in the northeast and midwest regions as well as some from the western and southeastern regions. It was clear that Cohesive Strategy implementation looks different everywhere and is local, from the ground up. It is based on the people of an area, their cultures and values, their risks and their opportunities to address them. One of the great highlights of this event was the focus on the use of fire, both cultural and for resource benefit, by indigenous populations from the northeast and southern regions.
In October 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a fourth workshop was held virtually under the theme of “Hard Truths of Risk Inherent in Cross-boundary, Large Landscape, and Community-wide Implementation”. The sessions focused on what it really means to utilize the Cohesive Strategy to make progress towards the three goals of Landscape Resiliency, Fire Adapted Communities and a Safe, Effective Wildfire Response. Learning opportunities embraced the notion that collective priorities must be set by all stakeholders involved, the costs of investing in reducing risk based on those priorities must be collective, and management decisions must be based on risk and some trade-offs must be accepted by both management and the community at large.
The 5th National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop took place November 14-18, 2022, in Asheville, North Carolina, under the theme of “Keeping Pace With Reality: Boldly embracing the challenges and undertaking the hard work.” Attendees were challenged to come prepared to “roll up their sleeves and get to work,” and they did. This highly interactive hybrid workshop focused on providing practitioners and decision-makers with tools and ideas that support positive fire outcomes and identified opportunities for accelerated Cohesive Strategy implementation.
Keeping Up The Momentum
Now six years old, the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy has shared many examples of managing fire through a shared collaborative response. We look forward to addressing critical issues and challenges at the 2023 workshop.