Are Whoofoo and Hammer Gone?

The latest missive from USFS Fire and Aviation Director Tom Harbour indicates that whoofoo (as we call it) is no more. Let It Burn is still happening; they just don’t want to refer to it as whoofoo, foofurb, or any other moniker we can satirize.

There are only two types of wildland fires: wildfires and prescribed fires. The terms “fire use fires,” “resource benefit fires,” or “suppression fires” will not be used. The agency reports activity on only these two types of fire. Manage natural ignitions to achieve desired Land and Resource Management Plan objectives when risk is within acceptable limits. A wildfire may be concurrently managed for more than one objective.

However, if you look close, they are now calling Let It Burn “natural ignitions to achieve desired objectives” or “niados”.

So niados are the new Let It Burn.

The authority to declare niados comes from the WFLC February 13, 2009 Guidance for the Implementation of Federal Wildland Fire Policy or GIFWFMP [here].

The new GIFWFMP (2009) replaces the old GIFWFMP (2004). the changes are, in a nutshell:

1. Wildland fires may be concurrently managed for one or more objectives and objectives can change as the fire spreads across the landscape. That replaces the old guidance that said “wildland fires will either be managed for resource benefits or suppressed. A wildland fire cannot be managed for both objectives concurrently.”

So now the objectives can be swapped around whenever. Note that fires can be managed “for resource benefits”; it’s just that nobody in charge is allowed to say so. See the new “niados” rule above.

2. Initial action on human-caused wildfire will be to suppress the fire… but not necessarily subsequent actions. That replaces “Human caused wildland fires will be suppressed in every instance and will not be managed for resource benefits.” The implication is that human-caused fires may now become niados and Let Burn, even though they are not “natural ignitions”.

3. Same as #1, but replacing the old guidance, “Once a wildland fire has been managed for suppression objectives, it may never be managed for resource benefit objectives.” Now the fire managers can change their minds whenever. They can suppress, then not suppress, then suppress, then not suppress. It all depends on the whim of the person in charge. No Environmental Impact Statement, study or analysis is required.

4. The term Appropriate Management Response is removed from implementation guidance with “Response to Wildland Fire” as the policy area defining the actions for managing a wildland fire.

What ho? Appropriate Management Response, or as we call it, “hammer”, was the official term that described the response to wildfires. Hammer was allegedly based on evaluation of threats to lives and safety, resource values, and fire conditions.

Now it’s gone. The word “appropriate” has been found to be inappropriate. Internal and
public use of the word “appropriate” are discouraged.

Other words that have new definitions are “benefits”, “escaped prescribed fire”, “fire management”, “fire type”, “incident objectives”, “initial attack”, “initial response”, “prescribed fire”, “protection”, “response to wildland fire”, “suppression”, “use of wildland fire”, “wildfire”, wildland fire”, “wildland fire use”, and “wildland urban interface (WUI). See Attachment A: Terms whose definition and intent has changed with the Guidance for the Implementation of Federal Wildland Fire [here].

Some of those words have been dropped, some redefined. By “dropped” I mean that Agency personnel are no longer allowed to use them. In fact, agency personnel are not supposed to discuss fires at all. Only official Incident Information Officers (IIOs) are to respond to questions from the Media, and answered are limited to specific guidelines. See USDA Forest Service Fire Communications Guidance [here].

The gag order comes from William Kaage, Chair of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG), National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) [here]. A quote:

For both our internal and external audiences, we need to keep our terminology simple and continue to focus on telling our story versus getting caught up in explaining the difference between unplanned and planned ignitions and between wildfires and prescribed fires. The simplest way to approach our story for wildland fire is to describe our actions by telling our cooperators, regulators, and the public what we are doing operationally, why we are taking these actions, and how these actions affect firefighters, the public and the social, ecological, and economic communities.

The NWCG is “an operational group designed to coordinate programs of the participating wildfire management agencies” [here]. They were set up as, in effect, the information arm of the NIFC [here]. But now the NWCG directs the implementation of policy, specifically Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy, which is established by the Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC).

Lots of ancronyms. That’s how government is. The key point is that the WFLC sets the fire policies and the NIFC carries them out with informative guidance from the NWCG.

The WFLC, however, is out of control and jimmies with the Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy all the time. All the above changes in wording originated with and emanate from the WFLC. We have discussed the WFLC at length in many prior posts [here].

The WFLC has been so politicized and inept, and has generated so many disasters with their disastrous policies, that they are now spinning around in circles. One manifestation of their ineptitude is a perceived (from their point of view) inability to communicate with the public.

Communication has been a nagging issue with the WFLC for many years. They have struggled with perceptions ever since they seated the Wilderness Society and began promulgating Let It Burn under various guises. They tried a “Blackened, Dead, Burned Up Forests Are Beautiful” campaign, but that didn’t fly. They tried whoofoo, foofurb, hammer, and all kinds of gibberish to justify Let It Burn, but that hasn’t worked.

The public is not fooled. We know when the NIFC is suppressing fires with intent to contain, control, and extinguish, and we know when they aren’t.

The WFLC has beat their brains out trying to jerk around the public with lies and propaganda smoke screens, all to no avail.

The latest vocabulary excise exercise is yet another attempt to manipulate the language to cover up the policies. Whoofoo and hammer are gone. Unfortunately, niado waits in the offing. They all mean the same thing: Let It Burn.

The WFLC does not get that forest management (care, stewardship) is a complex undertaking that does not include catastrophic incineration with Let It Burn fires. They want Let It Burn so badly, but they are clueless about how forests are protected, maintained, and perpetuated.

What Congress has done (those idiots) is to separate fire management from forest management. They set up Councils, Centers, Groups, and Policies that focus on fire only, to the exclusion of all the other forest management concerns and considerations — such as timber, wildlife, water, recreation, etc. etc.

Forest management requires consideration and actions that address all the multiple resources and resource values that forests provide. Fire management, in contrast, considers fire and fire only.

By putting fire managers in charge of forests, Congress has screwed the pooch, killed the golden goose, abrogated the mission, compromised the law, and set forests up to be giant conflagrations.

The approach of Congress, and by extension the WFLC, has been so misguided and destructive that the WFLC is spinning like a top, trying to alter the English language so that the public will somehow be mollified or content to see their forests, watersheds, landscapes, homes, businesses, towns and cities burned up in megafires.

But we are not and will not be mollified or content with that.

Congress needs to be flushed out with fire hoses. We need to stop electing idiots. And we need our forests managed as forests, for multiple resources, not treated like piles of fuel waiting for the government to burn them to the ground.

12 May 2010, 9:42pm
by bear bait

“….and they spent the night, in a helluva fight, deciding which could do what to whom.” — precursor to a bar room brawl…

How does the AG Holder three team fire damage hot shot lawyer crew work in this milieu? If an escaped private origin fire burns onto USFS land, and the Piss Fir Willies and Willettes decide that fire is just what they need to manage their landscape, do the Feds still get to pursue damages against the fire starter? Or, will the USAG NOT let them NOT fight the fire, because then there would be no basis for gov-based damages? No actionable “loss of grandeur of the landscape”?

Me thinks all cards have yet to be placed on that table. I heard Oregon Democrat Governor candidate Bradbury say today, “in a perfect revenue world, Oregon would have property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, and excise taxes.” In my perfect world, his head would fall through his ass while both were talking.

ObamaNation is about finding any and all ways to make the capitalists pay as much as they can be bled for. I can see a world where the Feds burn up your land and then charge you to put out the fire, and assess you for whatever damages other Federal land sustained after your land was burned by their escaped fire. After all, it went from them to you and then back onto them, and so you should pay.

Arsonists all. It is about burning as much as they can, as soon as they can, and collecting double time pay and treble damages. They have not taken their eyes off the prize: a blackened moonscape of a certain ethereal beauty. If piss in a bottle is Art, or an elephant turd, or a pile of pizza puke, then there is Art in a burned over forest. Who am I to say any different? As a country, we have gone irrational and are now a state in need of being institutionalized. USA straitjacketed to the Nuthouse!! Read all about it!!!



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