Remember, to many ENGO’s, we’re in a “climate emergency.” Which conveys a sense of urgency to do climate adaptation. I don’t think we need to agree on what proportion of the current fire problem is caused by the human contribution to climate change to move ahead and realize that what we face today is a changed, and extremely bad, situation that needs serious and urgent attention. Back to the Climate Smart Ag and Forestry letters, here’s an idea from The Wilderness Society  :
“The Wilderness Society also encourages the USDA to adopt a multi-zone portfolio approach that guides wildfire management and restoration in large, contiguous areas across the landscape. A good, recent example of this kind of zoning system is the revised forest management plan for the Inyo National Forest in California. The Inyo plan designates four Strategic Fire Management Zones across the forest — Community Wildfire Protection, General Wildfire, Wildfire Restoration, and Wildfire Maintenance – and provides management direction designed to protect communities from wildfire risk while allowing wildfire to play a beneficial role in ecosystem restoration and maintenance.”c.
If we add in the frustration associated with plan revisions by Forest Service employees, stakeholders and even law school professors (!) (Squillace, 2019):
“The time is long overdue for the multiple-use agencies to admit that the current land use planning scheme is not working, and that it cannot be fixed without fundamental change”.
We’d think that perhaps a fire amendment might work.. and another piece is that most ENGO’s seem to like EISs.. so… what about..
“All hands on deck” effort on National Forest fire planning. Put a stand down on plan revisions and other major planning projects until each Wildfire Forest (forests for which wildfire is an important problem) has completed a forest plan amendment that addresses fire management zoning, wildland fire use, specific PODs or other strategic landscape fuel treatments design, and all other relevant fire issues. For example, I think it was WEG who suggested a focus on human-caused ignitions; there might be similarities across forests but also specific areas and approaches to target by Forest.
Such an amendment would require coordination with neighboring Forests, Tribes, state and private landowners and communities on locations of PODs and treatments. Because many ENGOs prefer large landscape NEPA, these could be done as a plan amendment with an EIS for establishing PODs, as well as their upkeep through time (one and one NEPA). It’s possible that the “safety first” and the “departure first” points of view would iron themselves out during this process. Some type of stakeholder advisory committee, including at the state level, might oversee and help with implementation, take advantage of state expertise including practitioners, natural resource professionals and state universities, increase alignment between local, state and federal efforts, and lift up problems and issues for resolution.
With the large fires we’ve been having, it would also be important to be able to change priorities and POD designs based on opportunities provided by fires, and keep those up to date. I’m not sure that going through the plan amendment-EIS process each time conditions changed would be realistic. On the other hand, an emergency calls for changes from business as usual.
Of course, if we look at any Forest’s SOPA, we’ll see other permits and NEPA that need attention, so it’s impossible for employees to drop everything else. Still, we can ask the question “what does a climate emergency call for?” and “How far can we move from BAU to respond to such an emergency?
What do you all think?
 Squillace, M. 2019. Rethinking public land use planning. Harvard Environmental Law Review (43):415-477.
 USDA Forest Service. 2018. Land Management Plan for the Inyo National Forest, p. 75-79.