TSW Kelly Martin Presentation Video and New Tab for Discussions of Moderation on TSW

Many thanks again to Kelly Martin for making herself available for a presentation on the Wildfire Commission Report last Friday! And thanks to all who attended and participated.

We had an interesting discussion afterwards, in which  members of the group disagreed on some things (e.g. around the use of beneficial wildfire) and agreed on others (developing affordable housing for firefighters).  One of my favorite moments was toward the end of the video, when Kelly talks about her passions for this work, and why she continues working on these issues in retirement.  I’m sure she articulated how many of us feel and can’t express nearly as well.

I’m hoping the video will work for those who couldn’t attend. It’s posted here. Please comment below if it doesn’t work for you.

Also, The Hotshot Wakeup did an interview with Kelly and the podcast also well worth a listen.

On today’s show, I welcome Kelly Martin to discuss the new Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission’s report to Congress, everything happening with the workforce, legislation, and beneficial fire.

The Presidential Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission was established in 2022. Kelly was one of 500 applicants who applied to voluntarily serve on this 50-member Commission. She was selected to fill the primary seat representing Wildland Firefighters.

Kelly’s 35-year federal career as a wildland firefighter provided invaluable technical and subject matter expertise to the Commission, ultimately obtaining unanimous consensus on comprehensive workforce reforms (see recommendations 84-103 in the Commission report).


Comment Moderation- New Tab

I don’t get to read everyone’s comments, but I have noted a couple of requests for moderation.  So I made another tab above labelled “Moderation Requests and Discussion” so I can find them.  Please put all such comments there or a link to the moderation comments you’ve already made. I do want to respond but I want to be more or less consistent, and I want to be able to find them all. Thank you!

9 thoughts on “TSW Kelly Martin Presentation Video and New Tab for Discussions of Moderation on TSW”

  1. Just some observations of what she said from my perspective. (Which surprised me, and feel free to check me on this if you heard something different.)

    When she referred to historic mismanagement of national forests she was referring to fire suppression, and “active management” now means use of fire.

    The infrastructure needed for logging and thinning instead of fire use is “not going to happen.”

    Nobody (in her world any way) thinks that trying to put more fires out is a solution.


    • I think she was saying that fires should be managed appropriately, based on all the required thinking and analysis that goes into fire suppression decisions. So some need to go out right away, and others can do useful things. There are neighbors in various parts of country that don’t trust that the right decisions will be made, sometimes based on their experience of things going badly. They are also concerned that sometimes line officers don’t have fire experience, and that combined with targets for fuels including WFU, could encourage them to favor acres treated over risk to communities, similar to the way some think timber targets work to the expense of environmental considerations.

      So building trust is key, via before and during communications (two way) between communities and IC folks, and talking about it in advance via fire forest plan amendments which involve NEPA. Which you and I agree on! And apparently the Sequoia did in its recent revision, according to Sue Britting.

    • Hi Jon –

      I know many of my comments and the report may not represent all views and opinions. We will continue to engage in dialogues to ensure all voices are heard and we may not necessarily agree with each other which is healthy as well.

      When we talk about land management in broad terms and the state of our landscapes it’s important to acknowledge many factors and influences which have played a significant role in shaping our current landscapes and ecosystem health and function.

      All these human activities are additive to forest conditions that we have today:
      **Removal of Cultural Fire used for millennia by American Indians prior to colonization
      **Largest timber producing country in the world at the turn of the 20th Century
      **Aggressive suppression policy for over 100 years
      ** And now Climate Crisis exacerbating wildfires due to our previous human actions that were likely well intended at the time but short sighted as we couldn’t foresee our unintended outcomes.

      There will always be a place for logging and thinning especially around area’s most at risk to severe wildfires. What can/should we do to support to support new business models and retool the use of wood fiber at a local level?

      The use of Beneficial Fire is a very valuable tool. I have used this throughout most of my career with very good results. I would also like us to acknowledge that for some reason ‘fire suppression’ has somehow escaped the NEPA analysis (cumulative effects and impacts) and we know now that this perspective of ‘saving the trees from fire as an emergency action’ for over 100 years is now having just the opposite effect of our original suppression intentions.

      The calculative and scientific use (right fire, right place, right time), of Beneficial Fire on the land is essential to remediate over a century of human activity and unnatural intervention.

      There is a place and time for Active Forest Management as well as the use of Beneficial Fire.

      Thank you Jon for your comments.

      • Hi Kelly: Thank you for your time and presentation on Zoom with this forum. As you say, there is always room for disagreement, and constructive criticism is a greatly undervalued process in my experience.

        My PhD research involved historical wildfire and Indian burning practices over the past 500+ years for western Oregon, and my professional experience includes 20+ years as a reforestation contractor that also performed nearly 20,000 acres of prescribed burns — none of which included a single acre of “slop-over” or, so far as I am able to determine, a single acre being subsequently subjected to wildfire in the past 40 years.

        This detailed research and extensive personal experience has led me to some significantly different conclusions than your own:

        1) The climate has been about the same for centuries, and there is no indication that a “warming planet” has anything to do with the recent predicted increases in wildfire extent and severity;

        2) Current fuel build-ups were clearly predicted by me and others more than 30 years ago, based on federal adoptions of passive management policies and have little or nothing to do with a “history of fire suppression”;

        3) As Michael T. Rains points out, so -called “Beneficial Fire” at a time in which our forests are choked with unprecedented levels of fuels, including dead and dying firewood, is both costly and increasingly risky with little beneficial result other than firefighter job security;

        4) The time and place for “active management” is now, if we want to return safety for people and wildlife in our forests, greatly reduce air pollution, and return economic vitality to our rural families and communities;

        5) Not sure how the pejorative term “colonization” has slipped into the language during the past few years, but prescribed burning was not discontinued with white occupation of former Indian lands — it has, however, been significantly modified;

        6) What does “largest timber producer” have to do with this discussion?;

        Finally, the timber industry that developed on public lands during WW II has been largely destroyed by federal passive management policies and environmental lawsuits that have predictably resulted in these massive wildfires and a near lack of infrastructure, road access, and trained personnel to deal with them.

        This is a national emergency, and to blame it on “Climate Catastrophe” or treat it with “Beneficial Fire” are demonstrable failures. There are several ideas for dealing with this self-inflicted destruction, and one proposed by retired forester Wayne Knauf is to develop electrical generating facilities in our rural communities that can convert non-merchantable snags and other forest debris into electricity — thereby capturing some of the energy wasted in wildfires (euphemistically “beneficial” or not) and thereby create needed rural jobs, greatly reduce smoke pollution and increase safety for our wildlife, and positively add to the “green energy” power grid.

        The argument has been made that this is an expensive form of making electricity, but the answer is the $900 billion estimated loss to wildfires — beneficial or otherwise — on an annual basis. An investment into a functional infrastructure of this nature should have a radical and positive impact on wildfire losses, as well as creating a trained work force that produces tax revenues, rather than depends on them.

        I’m willing to debate any or all of these concerns with you or others that hold your views, and do think they should have been central to the report. Your thoughts?

      • Knowing you would be watching for our reactions, I thought I would offer you mine, and thank you for addressing them (and for the presentation), which I think provides a nice summary of the questions of most interest here.

        One question on “There will always be a place for logging and thinning especially around area’s most at risk to severe wildfires.” How do you mean “at risk” in this context? I’m tempted to go to WUI, but maybe that isn’t what you meant.

        One more observation on “for some reason ‘fire suppression’ has somehow escaped the NEPA analysis.” In my experience working with fire staff at the national level on forest planning, my impression was that avoiding NEPA for any decisions related to fire was a goal. (The person working with me from that staff, seemed to have very little support for our ideas, and our regional specialist assigned to this always had other things to work on.)


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