Interior Department and Intertribal Timber Council Strengthen Wildland Fire Management Collaboration

firefighterImage via US Department of the Interior, Credit: BLM Nevada

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior announced the recent signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Intertribal Timber Council. As climate change propels larger, costlier and more complex wildfires, this agreement emphasizes the importance of collaborating on wildland fire management across departmental and Tribal lands. The MOU was announced during the Intertribal Timber Council Board of Director’s September quarterly meeting.

Approximately 6.5 million acres of land managed by the Interior Department are in close proximity to Tribal land, separated by 50 miles or less. The proximity and interconnectedness of these lands necessitates close communication and collaboration on wildland fire management.

“By making smart investments in critical infrastructure, wildland fire response and key partnerships, the Department of the Interior is helping lead the Biden-Harris administration’s response to the increasingly complex fire environment, including on Tribal lands,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “By strengthening our ties and improving collaboration with stakeholders like the Intertribal Timber Council, we will improve our efforts to more effectively reduce wildfire risk, rehabilitate burned landscapes, promote a better understanding of wildfire and support our firefighters.”

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The memorandum of understanding between Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire and the Intertribal Timber Council commits to undertake mutually beneficial actions and work collaboratively to reduce wildland fire risk and mitigate post-wildfire impacts. In particular, both organizations agree to:

  • Identify shared values
  • Utilize information technology to improve decision making among partners
  • Highlight common conservation priorities to combat the effects of climate change
  • Coordinate on workforce development efforts
  • Facilitate the exchange of perspectives and information to increase awareness, understanding, and engagement between the two organizations

“There is no single entity across wildland fire management that will be able to successfully manage the landscape before, during and after a wildfire without help,” said Cody Desautel, President of the Intertribal Timber Council. “The Intertribal Timber Council looks forward to the continued effort to pursue and promote stewardship of our lands for the benefit of our communities.”

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The Biden-Harris administration is working with Congress on much-needed, longer-term support, benefits and work-life balance improvements for federal firefighters, as well as wildland fire preparedness. President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda would help better prepare communities and ecosystems against the threat of wildland fire, including investments made by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Act contains $600 million for federal wildland firefighter salaries, expenses and the development of a distinct “wildland firefighter” classification series, as well as historic investments to restore and leverage nature-based infrastructure to protect communities and the environment.

The Department recently outlined updated wildland fire management goals, including supporting science and research into the effects of climate change on wildland fire, modernizing the firefighter workforce while creating good jobs and protecting the safety and long-term wellbeing of wildland firefighters and incident responders.

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The Interior Department is committed to honoring and fulfilling our trust responsibilities to Tribal nations. This agreement represents yet another step toward the Biden-Harris administration’s priority of strengthening nation-to-nation relationships and promoting climate resiliency across landscapes and communities.

Learn more about the memorandum of understanding on the Office of Wildland Fire partnership webpage.

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