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Northeast Regional Strategy Committee Newsletter

March 2022

The Northeast Regional Strategy Committee (NE RSC) is established to coordinate and support the national Wildland Fire Leadership Council’s mission and priorities across the 20 Northeast and Midwest states to facilitate understanding of wildland fire policies and frameworks such as the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. The NE RSC provides strategic connections, fosters collaboration, and facilitates addressing regional priorities to support all wildland fire partners and their activities across the Northeast.

Membership includes, but is not limited to, representatives from federal, state, Tribal, local, non-governmental organizations, private industry and other agencies, organizations and individuals as approved by the NE RSC.  
Table of Contents  

February 9, 2022


New Jersey Forest Fire Service Commences Annual Prescribed Burning Efforts and Launches Online Public Information Tool

TRENTON – The New Jersey Forest Fire Service will soon begin conducting prescribed burning to reduce vegetation and debris that may contribute to the start and spread of a wildfire. By actively eliminating sources of fuel that exacerbate forest fire risks through a controlled and prescribed burning program, the Forest Fire Service reduces risk to New Jersey residents, visitors and the environment, Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette said.

Peak wildfire season in New Jersey begins in late March and continues through early May, depending on rainfall and weather. 
“It may surprise some New Jerseyans to know that there were more than 900 wildfires last year,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “Proactive forest management, including prescribed burning, is vital to protecting public safety and helps to ensure that we protect the long-term health and success of our forests. By reducing forest fire fuels through strategic prescribed burning, our Forest Fire Service protects New Jersey communities and ecosystems and helps to avoid catastrophic releases of carbon during wildfires that would contribute to climate change.”

“Recent events in Colorado, Montana and California have underscored the importance of managing our wildland environments as they interconnect with human development,” said Greg McLaughlin, State Firewarden and Chief of the Forest Fire Service. “We encourage homeowners to visit to learn how to take steps make their properties safe from wildfire.”


February 14, 2022
This fire is no cause for panic. Image courtesy of Eric Kronner, Prescribed Fire Specialist at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

A passerby could be quite alarmed by the sight: nearly 2,000 acres of marshland in the treasured Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge going up in flames. It’s actually an age-old technique environmentalists use to build the marsh back up better than before. Cheryl Costello gives us a close-up look at how prescribed fire specialists keep this practice under control.

New Jersey wildfire season is back, and getting longer thanks to climate change

Scott Fallon

Wildfire season in New Jersey typically begins in late March or early April, when low humidity and persistent wind combine to propel flames in the Meadowlands, the Highlands, the Pinelands and anywhere else large amounts of dry vegetation exist. 

But fire officials said Thursday that they are seeing the season start earlier and extend later in recent years as New Jersey has experienced some of its warmest winters on record.
There have already been 88 fires this year. And last year saw one of the largest wildfires in recent memory occur, two weeks before the season traditionally begins.

"We're starting to see a shift in seasonality," Forest Fire Service Chief Greg McLaughlin said on a conference call with reporters Thursday to discuss the start of the season. 
New Jersey has experienced its warmest years on record in recent decades, echoing a global trend propelled by an increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that prevents heat from escaping into space. This includes 2020 and 2021, whose average temperatures ranked second- and third-hottest in more than a century of record-keeping.

Winters are seeing some of the biggest temperature increases. Five of the seven mildest winters in New Jersey have come in the last 20 years, according to the state climatologist. 

Increasing temperatures in Atlantic Coast states often generate more moisture that can stifle fires. But that isn't always the case.

February 2021 was the snowiest on record in North Jersey and the seventh-snowiest along the Jersey Shore, but just a few weeks later both regions saw large brush fires. 

A two-alarm fire near MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford broke out on March 12, fueled by high winds along with dry grass and reeds, and firefighters from six towns were needed to keep it from spreading to homes and businesses.

Two days later a large fire in Lakewood consumed 167 acres, damaged 29 homes, forced hundreds to evacuate and shut down a section of the Garden State Parkway.  

New Smokey Bear PSAs Feature a Fictional AI Assistant to Remind Americans of Important Wildfire Prevention Tips

Washington, D.C. (March 1, 2022) – The USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council are reminding Americans everywhere of important wildfire prevention tips with new PSAs featuring a virtual Artificial Intelligence Smokey Bear assistant. In both digital and radio spots, Smokey’s AI Assistant gives answers to some of the top questions Americans have about outdoor fire safety.

“As we look ahead into this fire year, it’s as important as ever for all Americans to join Smokey Bear and do their part in preventing unwanted, human caused wildfires,” said USDA Forest Service National Wildfire Prevention Program Manager Maureen Brooks. “This new campaign reminds all of us to be responsible when enjoying the outdoors.”

This year’s PSAs – developed by FCB, the creative agency that’s been with Smokey Bear since his introduction in 1944 – teach the basics in careful outdoor grilling and safe campfire building. Additional resources on how to spend time outdoors responsibly – including tips for visiting local green spaces and burning yard debris, as well as free coloring books and activity guides for educators and parents – are available at

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day 2022

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is a national campaign that encourages people and organizations everywhere to come together on a single day to take action to raise awareness and reduce wildfire risks.

It is held in the United States and Canada on the first Saturday in May. Given that in-person gatherings are limited or on-hold in many places, this year’s Prep Day is focused on what residents can do on and around their home to help protect against the threat of wildfires.

Apply for a Project Funding Award courtesy of State Farm
Submit an application for the opportunity to receive a $500 funding award to help support your Preparedness Day project. Include a brief project description about how your project will help reduce the risk of wildfire and advance wildfire preparedness around homes. Deadline to apply is Monday, February 28, 2022.

Meetings and Trainings

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The Northeast Regional Strategy Committee (NE RSC) delivers articles and stories each month that demonstrate the collaborative efforts of agencies, organizations and communities supporting and promoting the three goals of the Cohesive Strategy: Restoring Resilient Landscapes, Creating Fire Adapted Communities and Responding to Wildfire. 
This news update is our primary communication tool with our partners and the public. Looking for more Northeast Region Cohesive Strategy information or past published news update issues? Go to:
GOT NEWS? Does your agency, organization or community have a wildland fire management project or event you'd like to see featured in the NE RSC News Update? Tell us about it! Submissions should be sent by the end of each month to appear in the next monthly issue. Just email to Larry Mastic.
Key Contacts:
Dave Celino

Chief Fire Warden
Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation

Larry Mastic
Coordinator, Northeast Region
Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy

Important Links
Retrieving Northeast (NE) and National Cohesive Strategy (CS) documents and reports
All things CS plus past NE Regional Strategy Committee news updates

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