The Jackson Hole Area of northwestern Wyoming includes Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, the National Elk Refuge, Teton County and the town of Jackson. In this western community, fire management has become a true interagency, multi-jurisdictional partnership protecting nearly five million acres. Since many public and private buildings are surrounded by or adjacent to large tracts of public lands, fire managers disregard established boundaries to jointly manage wildland fires.
Interagency and community-based firefighters train together each spring and early summer; this cooperative training prepares local crews for safe and efficient wildland fire suppression activities throughout the fire season.
Coordinated Initial Attack
All park and forest resources respond to fires regardless of land ownership to ensure the most cost effective and efficient action. Shared resources include engines, helicopters, fuels management crew, fire effects and fire use monitors. These resources are funded by both agencies and are often staffed by interagency personnel.
Funding for two "Type III" Bell 206L4 helicopter rappel modules provides an integral part of fire management. This shared resource allows park rangers to use the helicopter for short-haul rescue operations within the Park and Forest.
Fire Management Administration
The partnership has broken new ground through management consolidation and shared fire-related positions; among these are a fire prevention officer, a GIS coordinator, and a fire education and information specialist.
National Fire Plan
All of the agencies formed a working relationship with the state of Wyoming to prioritize and complete fuels reduction projects for urban interface communities.
The Teton Interagency Dispatch Center is managed jointly by the forest and park, dispatching law enforcement and fire incidents for the two agencies.
Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest, with local town and county fire departments and state resource agencies, have created a model program that demonstrates the benefits of extensive partnering. Although the National Fire Plan initiated interagency efforts, years of hard work and determination by Teton area fire personnel set the stage.
Teton Area Wildfire Protection Coalition
The Teton Area Wildfire Protection Coalition is an interagency working group developed to enhance a comprehensive, collaborative approach to community wildland fire protection. The coalition will focus on using diverse backgrounds and viewpoints to implement fuels projects to benefit the community. The coalition's specific objectives are to educate citizens about steps to mitigate wildland fire, provide technical review of fuel reduction and forest stewardship plans, and facilitate funding opportunities for wildland fire fuels management projects.
The organization's membership is comprised of local land management agencies, land trust and conservation organizations, and contractors directly involved in wildland fire protection projects as well as citizens who represent the interests of the community. Meetings are open to the public.
The coalition's work goes hand in hand with the guidelines established for the National Fire Plan, enacted in 2001, which provides funding to better plan and prepare for wildland fire, particularly for mitigating risk in wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas. The National Fire Plan laid the foundation for a long-term program of work to reduce hazardous fuels, restore health to fire-adapted ecosystems, and promote community assistance. Collaboration at the local, regional, and national levels are key to the National Fire Plan's implementation strategy.