NFPA joined more than 90 other organizations in a coalition letter to support the permanent reauthorization of the Stewardship Contracting Authority, with no changes, in the 2012 Farm Bill. This important piece of legislation allows more flexibility and efficacy to federal land management agencies like the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to execute landscape scale forest health and forest fuel mitigation projects, while at the same time expanding business and job opportunities in many rural areas of our nation.
This legislation ties in nicely with NFPA’s Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) initiative that promotes the idea of community resistance in the event of a wildland fire. This holistic wildland fire risk mitigation approach focuses at the landscape level where the idea of the sustainable treatment of the forests that surround these high risk communities works hand-in-hand with the whole notion of a fire adapted community. The Firewise Communities/USA® program looks primarily at reducing home ignitability within the home ignition zone. Treating the surrounding forests complements the homeowner’s efforts in reducing the wildland fire risk in their community.
Thinning the forest addresses the forest management legacy of the past and results in healthier forests because the residual stand of trees has more room to grow and can therefore thrive. A more vigorous forest is less susceptible to beetle infestations and decay. Live trees have a lower ignitability versus dead beetle-infested trees. Thinning the forest removes fuel, reduces forest fuel loading, disrupts the continuity of forest fuels and consequently lowers the ignitability of the treated forest. In the event of a wildland fire, the fire intensity is significantly reduced due to forest thinning treatments and this allows communities located in and near these forests to be better able to handle a wildfire event should it occur.
The Stewardship Contracting Authority allows the Forest Service meet its forest management mandate in a very effective and efficient manner that facilitates fuel mitigation activities that ultimately complements our mission at the NFPA – fire and building safety.