Sunday, December 10, 2006

Recap of International Fire Congress

The Third International Fire Ecology and Management Congress in San Diego was a huge success!

Organized by the Association for Fire Ecology (whose membership includes several active FUSEE members), it was a veritable “Who’s Who” of fire ecology
and management experts from 22 different countries across 6 continents who came to give hundreds of speeches, papers, and poster presentations.

FUSEE members had an active role and big presence at the Fire Congress. Five of our Board members attended the conference, along with over a dozen other general members. We also served on the conference’s Steering Committee, and organized a Media Center that attracted nearly 50 journalists to cover the event. Press articles quoting FUSEE members at the conference were published all across the U.S., Canada, Australia, India, and Europe. We were also interviewed by the CNN, FOX, and MSNBC television networks.

One of the greatest accomplishments of the conference was the ratification of the San Diego Declaration on Climate Change and Fire Management. The San Diego Declaration was the first public advocacy statement by fire scientists on the connection between global warming and wildland fires, and offered a number of actions for fire managers to help prepare for the coming changes in vegetation, fire behavior, and fire effects. FUSEE members helped draft and promote this visionary document that will someday be recognized for its historic importance.

FUSEE hosted a poster display that showcased our philosophy, programs and projects. We’ve converted our poster into a slideshow available on the About FUSEE page of our website. We distributed lots of literature, including four boxes of the new book, Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. Several FUSEE members helped work on the book project, and it is currently being offered as a special membership premium for both new and renewing

FUSEE’s executive director presented a paper to a roomful of veteran wildland firefighters on the environmental impacts of the 2002 Biscuit Fire suppression actions. An even bigger audience cheered on FUSEE member, Jay Lininger, as he received the Student Association for Fire Ecology’s Graduate Student of the Year Award at the evening banquet ceremony. Six other FUSEE members
delivered oral or poster presentations at the weeklong conference.

Our most exciting experience was a private discussion among FUSEE members and Dr. Stephen Pyne, world renowned fire historian and one of the conference’s keynote speakers. Discussion ranged over a wide variety
of topics related to FUSEE’s mission of shifting the fire management paradigm. Dr. Pyne recommended that we revise the Promethean myth to affect cultural change in society at large, and develop a critique of Industrial Fire--the dominant anthropogenic source of global warming.

All in all, the Fire Congress was an exciting, inspiring, and successful event that helped us inform the wildland fire community about FUSEE, and recruit new members. The Fire Congress’s guiding theme - the causes and consequences of global warming on wildland fire - convinced us to take on the issue of climate change as a major focus for our education and advocacy projects in the coming year(s) ahead. Indeed, the heat is on wildlandfirefighters to warn policymakers and the public that there is no time to waste in preparing communities, prescribing fires, and restoring forests to confront climate change.

--FUSEE staff