The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy: Phase III Western Regional Science-Based Risk Analysis Report (Western Regional Risk Report)

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The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy) is a bold, new national approach to the increasingly complex reality of wildland fire and land management, and fire response. The Cohesive Strategy is being developed in response to a mandate under the Federal Land Assistance and Management and Enhancement Act (FLAME Act), and in response to growing concern over mounting annual costs of fighting wildfires, devastating wildland fire losses to communities, and concern about overall landscape health. Fire is a natural process, necessary for the survival of many ecosystems. The Cohesive Strategy takes a holistic approach by simultaneously looking at the role of fire in the landscape, the ability of humans to actively manage these landscapes, plan for and adapt to living with fire, and the need to be prepared to respond to fire when it occurs. 
 
In the Western United States, a century of widespread fire exclusion and the more recent severe  reduction of active forest management, have resulted in a build-up of surface fuels (downed wood, litter  and duff) and the overstocking of forests with trees and ladder fuels. Those conditions, exacerbated by  other stressors such as drought; insects and disease; invasive species; and changing climate conditions  have led to uncharacteristically large, severe, and costly wildfires that threaten homes, communities,  and cultural and resource values, and can cause widespread property and environmental damage. These  environmental conditions along with the effects of an expanding wildland urban interface underlie four  broad areas of risk: risk to firefighters and civilian safety, ecological risks, social risks, and economic risks.

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