Forest pest events contribute to fire risk and complicate forest fire management. The Great Lakes states and provinces are facing a number of native and non-native forest pests that can increase forest fire risk and mitigation costs, including oak wilt, Heterobasidion root disease, emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid, gypsy moth, eastern larch beetle, spruce and jack pine budworm, and forest tent caterpillar. Invasive plants spreading across the Great Lakes states also contribute to increased risk; storm damage, increased forest fragmentation, land use changes, and other factors further contribute to risk. The increased fire risk associated with all these factors has created a need for a formal mutual aid framework. The Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact (GLFFC) provides a pre-existing, highly successful structure for forest health-based mutual aid.
Forest health experts from states and provinces in the GLFFC seek to establish a forest health subcommittee within the GLFFC Operations Committee. The committee is modeled after the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission Forest Health Working Team pilot, established in 2012. The NFFPC Forest Health Working Team pilot was extremely successful, and became a component of the NFFPC in 2016. The NFFPC Forest Health Working Team provides the basis for how the Forest Health Subcommittee would function and how it can be used to enhance forest protection.
The Forest Health Subcommittee provides Compact members with mutual aid for forest health incidents, training, research or other needs across state and provincial boundaries. The Subcommittee is comprised of members from three states and two provinces.
Key Issues The Forest Health Committee works on are :
- Provide a quick response to requests for help with forest health incidents with qualified personnel, resources, training, or other needs.
- Maintain a list of qualified personnel and resources capable and approved for traveling across geopolitical boundaries to provide assistance.
- Provide support to other GLFFC committees as requested to achieve Compact goals.