The Osage Nation Wildland Fire Management Department is responsible for approximately 200,000 acres of trust/restricted lands scattered in a checkerboard formation lying inside 1,470,559 acres that make up Osage County/Osage Nation Reservation. The Wildland Fire Management Department’s responsibility is not limited to fires on trust/restricted lands, but also any unwanted fire on Osage Nation Tribal Fee Land or Wildfire adjacent to or threatening trust/restricted lands. The vast majority of Osage County consists of wide open grass lands. These light flashy fuels (grass lands) combined with high variable winds can subject firefighters to extremely rapid changes in fire behavior during the fire season. Within this open range is an abundance of hardwood timber and large areas of tall grass prairie that can easily hamper wildland fire control/suppression efforts for an initial attack engine. Although increased home building within this rural region has led to an increase in the awareness of Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) issues, the fact that it is expanding in this highly volatile region also provides challenges for suppression and prevention operations.
To enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to safely improve and protect the values at risk of the Osage Nation tribal lands, water, air, and culture. We will accomplish this through the delivery of quality performance to ensure protection and land management activities that are consistent with the self-determination goals and objectives of the tribe.
Primarily: Osage County
Secondary: National Resource if needed or called upon.
Wildland Fire Preparedness:
- Ensure that firefighter and public safety is the first priority in every fire management activity.
- Provide protection for Indian lands and other tribal assets.
- Minimize danger to people and damage to structures in the Wildland Urban Interface.
- Minimize damage to resources from unwanted fires, Commensurate with the values at risk.
Wildland Fire Prevention:
- Reduce unwanted, human caused ignitions by ten percent (10%) within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Osage Nation over the next ten years to improve firefighter and public safety.
- Losses of life are eliminated; firefighter injuries and damage to communities and the environment from wildfires are reduced.
- Implement a hazard mitigation program that will minimize danger to the WUI based on Ready, Set, Go; Firewise; Fuels Management; and Fire Adapted Communities.
- Utilize and inforce reservation wide burn permit systems
- Raise public awareness regarding human caused fires
- Develop community wildfire protection plans
- Invite community involvement to mitigate wildfire activity
- Implement youth fire setter intervention programs
- Conduct origin and cause wildfire investigations
- Develop or revise Tribal Law and Order Codes pertaining to wildfire crimes.
- Develop trespass cases from resource damaging wildfires
Wildfire Safety Tips:
- Residents living in drought stricken areas should reduce brush, trees and other flammable materials away from their home. A community that has adapted to fire is a better-protected community.
- Before building a campfire, check local regulations.
- Follow all public-use restrictions and access closures. It is important to check with local public agencies about any closures before venturing off road.
- When putting a campfire out, drown it with water. Stir the fire with water and dirt until all fuel is cold to the touch. Never leave a fire until it is out cold.
- Campers are asked to be careful with gas lanterns, barbeques, gas stoves and anything else that can be a source of ignition for a wildfire.
- Each year, machinery and equipment are the cause of numerous wildfires. With a little extra care, most of these fires are easily preventable. Clean accumulated grass and debris away from exhaust systems and bearings. Make sure all bearings are lubricated. Service all spark arresters. Keep a shovel, water and working fire extinguisher on the equipment.
- Keep vehicles off dry grass. Exhaust systems can heat up to 1,000 degrees and ignite adjacent grasses and shrubs. Park only in designated parking areas or over non-flammable surfaces (such as graveled or dirt areas), and never in tall grass.
- Expect the unexpected and stay on designated roads and trails. When operating vehicles “off road” (or across grassy or brushy open fields), there are many hidden hazards that can disable a vehicle, bringing the exhaust system into prolonged contact with dry grass, or brush. Grasses and brush can also get caught beneath the vehicle and come into contact with the exhaust system, allowing the vehicle to spread fire over great distances.
- Report any sign of smoke or fire to an adult immediately. Children should not try to put out a fire themselves. This is a job for an adult.
- Children can easily learn about fire prevention. Additional fire prevention information for children can be found at Smokey Bear’s web site
The BIA and the tribes are especially concerned about how to deal with intentionally set wildfires. The BIA has teamed up with WeTip, a national non-profit organization that offers a 24/7 telephone tip hotline (1-800-472-7766) for people to report information anonymously.
Hazardous Fuels Reduction:
- Hazardous fuel is any kind of living or dead vegetation that is flammable. To meet desirable management goals, managers can modify the structure, distribution and vegetation type on a landscape. Prescribed fire, mechanical treatments and the careful use of natural fire are tools to help land managers meet the goals, objectives and desired conditions for the agency or tribe’s Hazardous Fuel Reduction (HFR) Management Program.
- Fuels management activities take place either in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), or outside of it. The WUI is essentially where wildland fuels begin to interface with urbanized areas. Most emphasis is now on managing activities in the WUI. These activities are of primary focus because reducing hazardous fuels around the urban interface increases public and firefighter safety, and reduces the risk of unwanted wildfire to communities. Mitigating the risk of hazardous fuels around important infrastructure like radio towers, transportation networks, municipal watersheds and utilities is another reason fuels management is important. In Indian Country, hazardous fuel reduction projects also strengthen rural economic sustainability and increase opportunities for economic diversification.
- While there is an emphasis of treating fuels near the WUI, most hazardous fuel projects take place outside of the WUI. Restoring and maintaining healthy fire-adapted ecosystems keeps natural systems balanced and also reduces the risks to cultural and historic places. Deserts, grasslands, tundra, scrublands, forestlands, estuaries and riparian zones are all ecosystems where fire naturally occurs. Natural Resource Management in Indian Country has historically been associated with in the wildlands
Prescribed Fire Treatments
- The natural role of fire is an essential part of the ecological process. Using fire as a tool to achieve resource management objectives may be the only effective tool natural resource managers have to restore the natural balance of the wildland on a large-scale.
- Prescribed burning is the deliberate and careful application of fire on a landscape. Fire managers cannot perform any kind of prescribed burn without first attending to national interagency policy for prescribe fire, NEPA, and other environmental compliance requirements. Each treatment requires specific burn plans with measureable burn objectives that clearly define operational procedures for implementation, monitoring, escapes and contingency resources.
- Prescribed burning is a tool fire/land manager’s may use as a singular event, or in combination with other mechanical treatments to reduce fuel buildup. In fire-adapted systems, fire should be present on a recurring cycle that is consistent with the natural fire regimes to sustain ecosystem functionality.
- Mechanical treatments are most often used in areas where fire has been excluded from for long periods of time, or around communities where prescribed fire or smoke management may have unintended consequences. A mechanical treatment can include thinning, regeneration cuts, pruning, mastication, chipping. Products from these activities often produce biomass.