Southern Oregon Partners Pilot the FAC Self-Assessment Tool
Authors: Michelle Medley-Daniel
Southern Oregon has long been a pioneer in fire management: piloting the nation’s first fire plans, leading in development of codes and standards and addressing the needs of vulnerable populations. The Southern Oregon Forest Restoration Collaborative (SOFRC) and their partners in Josephine and Jackson Counties are participating in the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network where their focus has been on updating county level integrated fire plans, coordinating cross-boundary implementation projects and scaling up action in communities throughout the two-county area.
Josephine and Jackson Counties face a number of challenges including a growing WUI population, complex jurisdiction issues and diverse local community cultures. In spite of this complex context, SOFRC partners are working to sustain communications and coordination, ensure that the fire plans continue to adapt and “live,” and prioritize strategic treatments and actions. As part of their local FAC efforts SOFRC is piloting the use of the FAC Self-Assessment Tool (FAC SAT), developed by the FAC Network to assist communities in gauging conditions, opportunities and challenges.
Going beyond a simple assessment of conditions, the FAC SAT is a planning aid that allows practitioners to prioritize actions, assign partners and track their capacity over time. Unlike some tools and checklists that have been developed to help reach different stakeholder groups, the FAC SAT is not a certification or recognition program. FAC is an “umbrella” that includes several outreach programs and activities; it is a customizable approach to coordinating a community’s actions including those in planning, implementation and recovery stages. In order to help communities track their efforts and understand their opportunities, the Network developed the FAC SAT.
Several of the communities participating in the Network are piloting the beta version of the tool this year. Initial observations and insights include:
- The FAC SAT can be used at a variety of scales and in coordination with other planning processes including CWPP revisions, fire planning efforts, county general plans and landscape management plans.
- It can be used as a catalyst for organizing stakeholders and can assist in the development of a shared vision for FAC.
- The tool is robust, and honestly, a bit daunting at first. It provides a single place to collect and integrate information about all aspects of FAC in your community.
- The FAC SAT can be used by diverse communities, whether you are just starting to take FAC actions, or are seasoned veterans, the tool can help gauge your next steps.
While the FAC SAT is currently in beta testing phase, the Network has plans to release a publicly available version in 2015/2016. Based on the feedback of Network participants, we will be making adjustments and determining the best platform to serve others working on FAC. Follow our blog for updates on the development of this tool.