It’s a new fire season and that means new faces for The Nature Conservancy’s Southern Rockies Fire Module.
New members this year include Andrew Merriam from Fort Collins, Monique “Mo” Whitener from Queen Creek, Arizona, and Thomas “Tommy” Peters from Rifle, Colorado. Jess Fuqua from Polson, Montana will also be working with the fire module during the peak of fire season.
Jeff Crandall will continue as the Module Leader. He is originally from California and has now been with the fire module for more than five years. Stepping up as Assistant Module Leader is Tim Borgman who hails from Albuquerque, NM. Other returning members include Squad Leader Chuck Sweet from Rapid City, South Dakota and Lead Firefighter Weston Toll from Boulder, Colorado.
The changes in personnel provide opportunities for module members to step up and bring their own styles, ideas and changes to the ever-growing program. Oversight for the module program is now the responsibility of new Colorado Fire Manager, Jason Lawhon. Jason joined the Conservancy staff in March and brings to the program more than 15 years of diverse fire and natural resource management experience.
Fire season in Colorado spans from mid-May all the way into late September and this is the primary focus of the team during this time frame. During the spring and fall seasons, the module focuses on implementing ecologically beneficial controlled burns with local partners, which include city, county, state and federal entities. They also provide training to increase partners’ overall fire management capacity.
In early April, the Module received official certification as a nationally recognized Type 1 Wildland Fire Module. This is the highest level of certification provided for modules operating anywhere in the country. Achieving Type 1 status will reinforce the Module’s already strong reputation as a highly skilled and professional group. It will also make them available for a wider variety of wildland fire management assignments.
When asked about the module’s goals for the 2014 season and beyond, Assistant Module Leader, Tim Borgman says, “We are looking to provide a professional and adaptable approach towards fire management whenever we are engaged in fire operations. This approach includes the reintroduction of fire into the natural ecosystem via management of naturally occurring wildfires when possible as well as the use of prescribed fire as a management tool.”
The Southern Rockies Fire Module’s purpose can be summed up in its mission statement: “We will strive to become a cohesive, safe, adaptable module, rising above and situation and maintaining the Nature Conservancy’s integrity beyond reproach. Module members will lead by example while making every effort to exceed all standards and expectations put forth in wildland fire use, prescribed fire, fire adapted ecosystem restoration and community protection.”