The National Integrated Drought Information System Drought and Wildland Fire Nexus (NDAWN) Strategic Plan: 2018–2022
The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Drought and Wildland Fire Nexus (NDAWN) defines the needs and challenges of fire managers to effectively utilize drought information and aims to meet those needs and to establish a robust drought and wildland fire decision-support information network. This strategy presents a logical framework to guide how NIDIS investment over the next five years could benefit both wildland firefighters and public health and safety in fire-prone areas of the United States. Broader planning and preparedness topics, including preventing economic and infrastructure losses are addressed as well. As a network, NDAWN functions at multiple scales, from sub-regional to national. This multi-tiered approach of direct engagement with sub-regional stakeholders, regional entities such as the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) Predictive Services and the Geographic Area Coordination Centers, and national entities such as the National Wildfire Coordinating Group enables NIDIS and its partners to better understand drought impacts for on-the-ground fire management and identify how drought impacts could be mitigated.
The NDAWN Strategic Plan is largely shaped by the outcomes of three primary NIDIS activities—(1) a 2015 western workshop in Boise, Idaho identifying the high-level challenges and opportunities regarding drought impacts on fire planning, behavior, and effects; (2) a 2016 targeted phone survey to better understand how effective and useful current drought information is to fire managers and planners; and (3) four sub-regional workshops in 2017 in the West (Missoula MT, Vancouver WA, Redding CA, and Reno NV) to gather regional specific impacts and needs. The phone survey and sub-regional workshops are discussed in an internal NIDIS report.
The Boise report identified five themed categories for next steps:
- Knowledge Transfer;
- Tool Development;
- Science Research;
- Communication; and
- Evaluation and Metrics.
These categories remain highly relevant and should be used as a guiding principle for future NDAWN efforts. The NDAWN context for NIDIS combined with the above categories allow for the formulation of a logic model highlighting activities, priorities, partners, outputs, and outcomes shown in Figure 1. A set of recommended topical activities based on findings to date (below) and the logic model together identifies exemplar strategic activities for the five-themed categories to benefit the management agencies and public.
The Boise workshop, survey and sub-regional workshops have provided rich information to aid in understanding the “state-of-drought” in fire management. In addition to these activities, engagement with the fire community in conferences, meetings and other opportunities such as training courses has been undertaken and reinforced the findings from these activities. It is clear that drought has substantial impacts on fire behavior, fire effects and fire management and that these relationships can be highly nuanced and complex. The NDAWN Strategic Plan will guide NIDIS priorities and investments over the next five years to benefit both wildland firefighters and public health and safety in wildland fire-prone areas of the United States.