Both the NASF Urban and Community Forestry and Wildland Fire Committees met in person recently to exchange best practices, generate ideas, and strategize on next steps. Read on for meeting highlights!
This week (June 19 and 20), the NASF Urban and Community Forestry Committee met in Philadelphia, where they discussed, among other topics, federal appropriations and legislation relevant to urban and community forestry. The newly named state forester for Pennsylvania, Ellen Shultzabarger, welcomed meeting attendees and Chair Steve Sinclair, state forester for Vermont, led discussions on state Forest Action Plans. State forestry agency urban forestry coordinators from Pennslyvania, Delaware, Colorado, and Oklahoma also gave presentations on local and regional programs of note.
On Tuesday afternoon, attendees enjoyed a tour of the City of Philadelphia, led by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, that included fascinating history lessons, success stories, and a downtown visit to "Farm for the City" – an initiative that promotes greater access to healthy, locally grown food. Long-time NASF partners – including the Arbor Day Foundation's President Dan Lambe and the USDA Forest Service – also attended the meeting and presented on emerging issues and opportunities in community forestry.
Three weeks earlier (on May 30 and 31) in Napa, California, the NASF Wildland Fire Committee, chaired by Florida State Forester Jim Karels, met to discuss pressing national wildfire concerns, including first response technology, federal funding, and networks for sharing and generating wildfire science. Special meeting guests included Shawna Legarza, director of fire and aviation for the USDA Forest Service, Rich Elliott, member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs' Wildland Fire Policy Committee, and Jeff Rupert, director of wildland fire for the Department of Interior.
Representatives of the Joint Fire Science Program and U.S. Geological Survey also attended and gave a presentation on the ways wildfire organizations could work more collaboratively in generating data and setting priorities for wildfire-related scientific inquiries.
The meeting closed with a half-day field tour led by Cal Fire and California State Forester Ken Pimlott. The tour took attendees to ground zero of several of the most destructive wildfires in California history; where communities are just now rebuilding nearly a year after the worst of the 2017 wildfires stopped burning. The attendees heard from several first responders who risked their lives to rescue their neighbors, friends, and family the October night the Tubbs and Thomas fires broke out, as well as fire chiefs and managers who coordinated extensive suppression efforts in the months that followed.
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