The National Strategy

The first phase of the Cohesive Strategy began with the vision statement, “Safely and effectively extinguish fire, when needed; use fire where allowable; manage our natural resources; and as a Nation, live with wildland fire.” From there, three national goals and a set of guiding principles and core values were established. Since then, efforts have been progressively moving from goals and principles to actions. Success within the Cohesive Strategy requires finding balance. This balance is encapsulated within the vision statement. Finding acceptable balance is not a scientific optimization problem, but a sociopolitical exercise which science can advise.

The options explored in the Challenges and Opportunities section suggest opportunities where management actions can be employed and leveraged to explicitly advance the national goals of the Cohesive Strategy. The options were intentionally crafted such that they are not mutually exclusive. That is, choosing to emphasize one option does not preclude implementing other options as well, even in the same location. Indeed, implementing multiple options is likely to have a synergistic or mutually reinforcing positive effect.

Having a set of options available to choose from is important, but it is not yet a strategy. In these times of limited fiscal resources, hard choices have to be made. Every choice involves a question of value, and unfortunately, not everything is a win-win solution. Choices made at a national or regional level to emphasize one option or set of activities over another invariably affect all constituencies differentially. The hardest part of defining a national strategy is deciding who does what, when, and where. Although many details will be worked through in collaborative exercises at multiple scales, the blueprint for those deliberations and commitments comes from national-level spatial and temporal prioritization.

This section seeks to explicitly define those national priorities using the information assembled and described in preceding sections.