Defining Our Future with Wildland Fire – A New Paradigm

The wildland fire environment in the United States is undergoing profound ecological, social, and political changes. We are witnessing escalating wildland fire behavior, increasing risk to responders, significant losses of homes and property, dramatic growth in suppression costs, rising post-fire impacts, continued injuries and loss of lives, and more frequent fire occurrence in wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas causing significant losses to communities and economies. Some characterize these recent unprecedented events as the “new normal” or perhaps more accurately, the “new abnormal.”

There are many challenges ahead and much to learn.  The differences between the environments of yesterday and tomorrow, and what is responsible for these differences must be understood.  Recognition of the importance of wildland fire as a key component of healthy ecosystems deeply rooted in the mix of social, ecological, and management requirements is essential.

A paradigm is defined as “a typical example or pattern of something; a model.” Managing resources and fire as “typical” events or placing an over-reliance on past practices and “business as usual” on our landscape and in our communities cannot succeed in the rapidly changing environment of the future. As stakeholders, we must enthusiastically reject letting our recent experiences allow a future wildland fire paradigm to be shaped solely by unchecked fuel accumulation, larger and more intense wildfires, unacceptable fire behavior, and undesirable impacts to societal values.

We must continue to utilize sound science, actively support the principles and management options within the framework of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and be proactive in our management practices and actions to address these mounting challenges.  Only then can we expect to achieve our desired wildfire outcomes and establish a new paradigm of resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities and a safe and effective wildfire response.

The National Cohesive Strategy pushes us to challenge our current and historical approaches to our nation’s rapidly changing wildfire realities and reach beyond our jurisdictional borders to:

  • redefine and understand risk,
  • share and co-manage risk,
  • set large, landscape-level and community-wide priorities, and
  • collectively invest in an outcome-based approach to achieve resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities and a safe, effective wildfire response.

As we stand on the precipice of a new wildland fire paradigm, we have the opportunity to define it, not be defined by it.

The vision of the Cohesive Strategy is to safely and effectively extinguish fire, when needed; use fire where allowable; manage our natural resources; and as a Nation, live with wildland fire.  

To maintain and strengthen meaningful progress towards this vision, the 3rd Annual National Cohesive Strategy Workshop will provide a forum unlike others for collaborative interaction.  It will provide an innovative, shared-learning environment for exploration, discussion, understanding, brainstorming, connection and collaboration around the issues we must face to improve outcomes related to wildland fire.  It will allow stakeholders to understand their roles and the opportunities for outcome-based approaches through continued and active implementation of the National Cohesive Strategy and how this will allow us to define a future with wildland fire as a key component of healthy ecosystems that meet social and management requirements.

 Who should attend? 

  • State, Federal and Tribal land managers, agency administrators and fire managers
  • Federal, State and Private planning specialists
  • Local planning officials
  • Emergency management and law enforcement personnel
  • Wildfire risk reduction and post fire recovery practitioners
  • County and city management
  • Utilities management
  • Insurance leaders

Workshop objectives

  • Describe and clarify what the Cohesive Strategy really means to the broad spectrum of stakeholders and what it will take to achieve meaningful progress toward the three goals.
  • Recognize the Tribal and historical use of fire and learn about incorporating this Traditional Ecological Knowledge into our programs today.
  • Use the lessons learned and issues highlighted from the 2017 and 2018 fire years to illuminate what’s no longer working in our wildland fire system and identify the paths forward that make progress towards a future defined by resilient landscapes, fire adapted communities and a safe, effective wildland fire response.
  • Explore changing our narrative about wildland fire: What is risk? How are we defining risk? How can we share it across stakeholders through co-management? Is the wildland-urban interface still our greatest challenge
  • Explore and identify how stakeholders can prepare for catastrophic wildfire events such as the 2018 Camp Fire and the 2017 Chimney Top 2 Fire.
  • Share stories, successes and lessons learned with your peers and non-traditional stakeholders about collaborative planning and implementation of Cohesive Strategy efforts. How are you addressing the need for prescribed fire? Air quality issues with smoke? Cross boundary, landscape-scale fuels treatments? Fire adapted communities? Post-fire impacts and recovery?
  • Highlight new technology and science-based advances and understanding that can help inform decision-making, risk assessments, risk reduction and fire management activities.

Share your experiences: Consider proposing a workshop session or interactive presentation that allows participants to share their knowledge and engage around some of these key issues, questions and themes. Please do not feel limited by this list; it is provided as a starting place for brainstorming.

  • How are you approaching fire management to address the “new normal” of fire activity? Resource limitations? How are you preparing communities at risk? Are you preparing for the worst-case scenario? If “business as usual” isn’t working, what are your ideas? Effective or ineffective management decisions or treatments; how have these have changed the way you do business?
  • How are you increasing the pace and scale of fuels treatments? How are you achieving cross-boundary, large-landscape-scale treatments? How are you engaging communities and community protection strategies in these efforts?
  • How can we increase the use of prescribed fire? What are the barriers? How have you overcome them? How are you addressing air quality issues? How are you scaling up the use of prescribed fire?
  • How are you defining risk? How are you prioritizing risk? How are you co-managing risk? How are you collectively investing in mitigating those risks?
  • Fire adapted communities – What is working for you? What do you wish worked better? Challenges and lessons learned? What are the unintended consequences of actions taken?
  • How can we make progress at the local, regional and national scales on issues like air quality and smoke management, post fire impacts and recovery, prescribed burning, wildfire response barriers, funding opportunities? What is getting in the way of doing more?
  • How do you plan for wildfire use? How do you prepare your community for an extended duration wildfire for resource benefit? (and its associated smoke)”?
  • Communications – what works, what doesn’t? How do you motivate stakeholders to take action? What messaging is the most important for which audiences?
  • Lessons from the 2017 & 2018 fire year: What are the commonalities and lessons learned from “community destroying wildfires”, e.g. The Chimney Top 2 and Camp Fires? What communities could be next and how can we better plan and prepare for these scenarios?
  • Latest, relevant research findings and technology that can lead to actions and desired outcomes.

Your proposal: This gathering is a workshop, so we are interested in the purpose, content, and format of your proposed session. Below you will find examples of purposes and session types you might propose. Creative, engaging sessions that help participants learn from and connect with each other are preferred.

The purpose: When you submit your proposal, be prepared to let us know what you hope to create with your session. Some examples are listed here to help you imagine what you can achieve.

  • Gather experiences to help others for future work.
  • Explore a specific issue and how implementing principles of the Cohesive Strategy can improve or has improved it.
  • Transfer information and best practices among participants.
  • Make connections among participants and build relationships.
  • Give practitioners a platform to share their experiences.
  • Create opportunities for future work with others through collaborative opportunities.

Session Formats: Some examples of formats are provided here, but again, this list is merely a starting point. Feel free to get creative and propose something else!


  • Five Minute Ignite talks (Presenters get 20 slides, 15 seconds each – a fast and fun presentation!)
  • Posters
  • Interactive presentations

Workshop Sessions: (The following facilitation techniques and session formats are examples. Feel free to propose your own! Please indicate the time you need for your session).
• Facilitated Discussion (Consider various group formats that draw out participants).
• Fail Faire (Host a session focused on helping people share constructive lessons from failures
• World Café (table hosts with one question at each table will talk about different topics and participants move around to hear what others have to say.
• Story Circle (A story circle may be used to build community, to examine differences, or explore challenges that people are facing.
• Shift and Share (Quickly and effectively share several innovations or useful programs that may lie hidden within a group, organization, or community.

The deadline for submissions in July 1, 2019.

Click Here to Submit your Proposal


Dave Celino, Massachusetts DCR. MA DCR Amherst Field Office (Co-Chair)

Tami Parkinson, Lead Fire Application Specialist, USFS Wildland Fire Management RD&A (Co-Chair)

Joe Stutler, Senior Advisor, Deschutes County, Wildland Fire Cohesive Strategy, Western Region Co-Chair, IAFC, Wildland Fire Policy Committee (Co-Chair)

Ed Brunson, Deputy Program Director, Joint Fire Science Program

Chuck Bushey, President, Montana Prescribed Fire Services, Past President, IAWF

Craig Goodell, Fire Ecologist, Bureau of Land Management, Northern Rockies Coordination Center

Katie Lighthall,  Coordinator, Western Region National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy

Larry Mastic, Northeast Regional Strategy Committee Coordinator

Michelle Medley-Daniel, Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network Co-Director, The Watershed Research and Training Center

Tom Montoya, Forest Supervisor, Forest Service, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest

John O’Connor, Cohesive Wildfire Strategy Coordinator, ODF Southwest Oregon District

Tom Parent, Executive Director, Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission

Mikel Robinson, Executive Director, International Association of Wildland Fire

Nick Skowronski (NAFSE), US Forest Service

Kim Skufca,  International Association of Wildland Fire

Gary Wood, Coordinator, Southeastern Region National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy

Tom Zimmerman, Past President, International Association of Wildland Fire

Mike Zupko, Executive Manager, Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC)



Workshop Venue:
Hotel 1620
180 Water Street
Plymouth, Massachusetts
Phone: 508-747-4900

We have reserved a block of rooms at Hotel 1620 at the Federal Per Diem rate of $115/night + tax.

On-line reservations may be made on and entering the PROMO code 2019COHESIVE. The room block will expire on September 20, 2019.

Why You’ll Love Hotel 1620

Central and walkable waterfront location: We are the closest full-service hotel to the harbor. You can walk to many waterfront attractions such as Plymouth Rock, Pilgrim Belle Cruises, Captain John Boats, and the Provincetown Fast Ferry.

New and modern guest rooms: Kick back in a newly renovated room, watch a Red Sox game on our large HDTV, brew a quick coffee in the Keurig machine, or chill up some refreshments in your in-room fridge.

Complimentary Amenities: As our guest, you’ll enjoy free Wi-Fi, and access to our fully equipped fitness center, business center, and heated saltwater swimming pool.

Classic New England Cuisine: Enjoy breakfast, dinner and evening cocktails in our onsite restaurant, 1620 Bistro. Steps away you’ll find the 1620 Winery & Wine Bar at the Village Landing Marketplace, Waterfront Bar & Grill, Lobster Hut and East Bay Grille.

Stylish event space: Offering over 15,000 sq. ft. of flexible function space, our hotel is the largest meeting and event center in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It’s the perfect location for your next social or corporate event.

Exhibitor/Sponsorship Information
Join us in supporting and/or attending the 3rd Annual National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop—being held in Plymouth, Massachusetts on October 21-24.

Exhibitor/Sponsorship Prospectus (PDF)

This Workshop will provide an innovative, shared-learning environment for exploration, discussion, understanding, brainstorming, connection and collaboration around the issues we now must face collectively to improve outcomes related to wildland fire.

In addition to a robust program we will be hosting an exhibition for our sponsors and those interested in gaining excellent exposure to 200 + individuals who will come together to discuss the Cohesive Strategy.

Who will be there?

  • State, Federal and Tribal land managers, agency administrators and fire managers
  • Federal, State and Private planning specialists
  • Local planning officials
  • Emergency management and law enforcement personnel
  • Wildfire risk reduction and post fire recovery practitioners
  • County and city management
  • Utilities management
  • Insurance leaders

Exhibit Booth – $250 + Workshop Registration ($150 Early, $175 Regular, $200 Late)

Includes 8-foot table, 2 chairs, wireless internet, electricity upon request.

Exhibition Times
Monday – set up from 3:00 – 7:00 pm
Tuesday – morning and afternoon networking break, exhibitor evening social
Wednesday – morning networking break (attendees will go on a field trip in the afternoon)
Thursday – morning and afternoon breaks

Registration: In addition to the Exhibitor Fee, all Exhibitors are required to register and pay for the workshop. Workshop registration includes access to all session and social activities. Exhibitors are welcome and encouraged to attend all sessions and social activities.

Special Opportunity: Exhibitors are welcome to host invitation social events at times outside of the program. If you are interested, please contact us and we will help you make arrangements with the hotel.

Gold Sponsor           $2,500
Acknowledgement as Gold Sponsor on official workshop website and in all printed materials.
Company name printed on workshop banners/signs
Complimentary exhibit booth (includes one representative)
Complimentary registration for an additional 2 representatives.
Specific mention of sponsor at welcome and closing sessions

Silver Sponsor              $1,500
Acknowledgement as Silver Sponsor on official workshop website and in all printed materials.
Company name printed on workshop banners/signs
Complimentary exhibit booth (includes one representative)
Complimentary registration for an additional 1 representative.
Specific mention of sponsor at welcome and closing sessions

Bronze Sponsor             $1,000
Acknowledgement as Bronze Sponsor on official workshop website and in all printed materials.
Company name printed on workshop banners/signs
Complimentary exhibit booth (includes one representative)
Specific mention of sponsor at welcome and closing sessions 

Individual Items
Coffee Break – $3,000 (5 available)
Mobile Application Sponsor – $1,500 (1 available)
Lanyards/Nametags – $750 (1 available)
Sponsor a Student’s Registration – TBD
General Support – $50-$500

We can build tailored sponsorship packages to suit your organization’s needs. For further information or to secure your preferred sponsorship option please contact Mikel Robinson by email [email protected] or phone (406) 625-7059.

Ready to Commit? Register Today


Registration is now open for the 3rd Cohesive Strategy Workshop. Registration includes access to all workshop sessions and social activities.  There is an additional charge of $25 for the Field Trip on Wednesday Afternoon.

Early Registration – $150 (ends July 31st)

Regular Registration – $175 (August 1 – September 30)

Late Registration – $200 (begins October 1)

One Day Registration – $95

Field Trip – $25


We are pleased to offer an optional field trip to the Myles Standish Complex on Wednesday Afternoon, October 23 from 12:30-5:00 pm.  Your fee of $25 includes transportation and lunch.

Highly flammable vegetation, globally rare habitats, challenges new and old, in a landscape sculpted by ice, sand, and fire… Join us to experience the pine barrens of southeast Massachusetts.   During this half-day field-tour in the Myles Standish Complex participants will hear from local fire practitioners, and see first-hand,  and how the National Cohesive Strategy is being applied in Massachusetts.

Embracing Diversity and Inclusion
Being a diverse and inclusive organization will enable the International Association of Wildland Fire to learn from others, grow our understanding, and find new ways to address, understand and implement solutions to complex problems. The IAWF desires to maintain a positive, empowering, inclusive and innovative culture that enables all members of the fire community to feel safe and valued when contributing to the IAWF. We want to operate in a flexible and open manner to meet our membership’s needs and to help members achieve their fullest potential.

Read IAWF’s Full Diversity and Inclusion Policy

Principles of Conduct – Living Our Values – Leading by Example
In the conduct of personal and professional matters, IAWF places high importance on the values of integrity, responsibility and reputation. We are committed to maintaining high standards both within the organization and in our dealings with others in our daily lives. Our leadership has developed these Principles of Conduct to define our accepted and unacceptable ethical behaviors. We have established guidelines for all members at all times and non-members who may be participating at any IAWF conducted activities. It helps ensure that IAWF promotes, achieves, and maintains high standards of practice and it provides a benchmark for members and non-members participating in IAWF activities to use for self-evaluation.

All conference attendees are required to read and agree to adhering to the Principles of Conduct.
Read IAWF’s Full Principles of Conduct

If You Witness or are Subjected to Unacceptable Behavior
If you are subjected to unacceptable behavior, notice that someone else is being subjected to unacceptable behavior, hear of any such incidents, or have any other concerns, please notify an IAWF representative immediately and report the incident. There will be several means to report any occurrences of inappropriate behavior. These include:

  • Face to face:
    • Any IAWF officer, Board Member, Diversity and Inclusivity Committee member, or any IAWF individual wearing a Planning Committee nametag, a session moderator, or anyone staffing the registration or IAWF tables are designated IAWF representatives and you can talk to them.
    • Someone will nearly always be at the at the Conference registration desk and you can report to them and they will contact an IAWF designated representative.
  • Anonymous reporting:
    • Use the Spot application.
    • Connection links and scan codes are provided on posters around the facility.
    • The link to report for an IAWF event or IAWF involvement from your computer or phone is: TALK TO SPOT LINK