The 2022 Wildland Urban Fire Summit

Written by Gabe Kohler, photo credits to Aelysea Webb from New Mexico Counties.

The NM Wildland Urban Fire Summit (WUFS) is New Mexico’s premier event for wildfire preparedness and planning. The event provides a venue for sharing best practices and building professional relationships between practitioners and academics. Participants include community leaders, academics, fire service professionals, and federal, state, tribal, and local government representatives. The event is made possible through funding from the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and administrative support from New Mexico Counties.

Over the last 9 years, the Guild has played an important role in developing the agenda, approaching potential speakers, and coordinating event logistics. With the 2022 WUFS located in Santa Fe, NM, the Guild played an especially central role last year.

Santa Clara Canyon Tour during WUFS

Tour of Santa Clara Canyon during WUFS 2022.

The 2-day event was held in Santa Fe, NM from November 16th-18th. The theme for the summit was “Community Recovery, Cultivating Resilience.” The Guild supported the development of an agenda that was informative and engaging while being sensitive to the grief and devastation of the 2022 fire season. In the summer of 2022, the Calf Canyon/ Hermit’s Peak wildfire burned over 341,471 acres, devastating communities and becoming the largest wildfire on record for the State of New Mexico. Many participants were personally affected by the Calf Canyon/ Hermit’s Peak wildfire or had friends or family that were. Through professional facilitation, deliberate agenda setting, and outdoor sessions the event was successful in providing a space for learning and discussion while being sensitive to the recent loss and devastation for many New Mexicans.
To see a full agenda from the 2-day conference, click here.

Meeting room during a session at WUFS 2022

WUFS 2022 attendees in a meeting room discussion.

Sessions range from full presentations to mini-talks to workshops and field tours. The dynamic and interactive format of the of the Summit supports an important dialogue about forest and fire management in the Wildland Urban Interface areas of New Mexico.

NM State forester Laura McCarthy giving the keynote presentation at WUFS 2022.

NM State forester Laura McCarthy gives the keynote presentation at WUFS 2022.

This annual event serves as an important opportunity for informal networking among wildfire practitioners and this year was no exception. Over 120 participants came from across the state to attend the Summit. Student participants, in particular, noted their appreciation of the Summit as a place to make professional connections and share emerging research topics. Many students attended from New Mexico Highlands University, which serves an important role for job training and forestry education for many rural, Northern New Mexican students. As always, it was refreshing and inspiring to see the next generation of natural resource leaders show enthusiasm and creative problem solving in their work.

Planning for WUFS 2023 is already underway and the Guild will continue to play a key role in the planning committee. Until the next summit, Guild staff are hard at work building partnerships and developing creative solutions that will undoubtably make the agenda in 2023.