This spring 81 participants from 34 agencies and organizations took part in the Loess Hills Cooperative Burn Week April 29th – May 3rd. The event provided an opportunity to join with partners to achieve fire management in an area where additional skills and resources were needed to accomplish the work at a landscape scale. It was also an opportunity to build relationships with partnering agencies and share knowledge and skills. Many participants also gained experience working within a more complex organizational structure than they typically do, using the Incident Command System and working with an incident management team made up of ten staff from several different agencies.
Photo by Thad Pothast
This year’s cooperative burn week focused on the northern portion of the Loess Hills, including Harrison, Monona,
Plymouth and Woodbury counties. Burn units had been identified as priority areas by partners, and included Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve, Plymouth County Conservation, Iowa DNR WMA and Loess Hills State Forest sites as well as additional agency units. The burn week was based at the Loess Hills State Forest headquarters for first three operational periods, and on the third day, the incident command post was moved to Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve in a mass mobilization exercise.
Firefighter and public safety, building interagency relationships, and providing participant training are the objectives of each cooperative burn week. The acres that get burned are a bonus, a byproduct of this foundation. The driving force behind the effort is the development of experience, skills and leadership that will allow participants to be better firefighters—and better land stewards and employees of their respective organizations.