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[Yap State News] Dr. Falanruw: Preparing For The Upcoming Drought And Wildfires

Resource: Yap State News Briefs (10/28/2015)

YAP, FSM (USFS) — Following is a statement from Dr. Margie Falanruw of the United States Forest Service (USFS) in Yap. It concerns the current El Niño weather condition, and the expected conditions for Yap in the coming months.

“We are currently experiencing an El Niño year. That’s why there were a lot of typhoons earlier in the year, and why we are experiencing especially low tides.

“Scientists who study the weather have noticed that there is generally a drought (a big yal’) following an El Niño year in our area. While the current El Niño is still ongoing, they are predicting a drought for Yap. The 3rd quarter ENSO Bulletin predicts that Yap and Ulithi could get only about ¾  (75% ) as much rainfall from October to December of this year. Then from January to March, 2016, they are predicting only half the normal rainfall(!) For April to June, 2016, the predictions call for about 70% of the normal rainfall. Rainfall could return to normal by about August of 2016. These predictions will be updated as they watch the behavior of the El Niño.

“Given these predictions, this is the time to prepare water catchments and to be very careful with burning activities as the drought occurs at a time of strong NE trade winds (marngek) that could spread wildfires fast.

“In response to Yap’s wildfire problems, the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Fire program has been assisting Yap State with wildfire prevention and suppression. This assistance has included the medium-sized, green fire truck, which is capable of reaching places that the bigger fire trucks can’t reach; support for fire prevention education programs, and; the planting of shaded fuel breaks which will eventually limit the spread of wildfires. This project has resulted in the planting of nearly 12,000 trees within the municipalities of Maap, Rumuung and Tomil. The program also hires college-level interns to assist with the program and to develop local capacity in wildfire management.

“In addition to the provision of the fire truck and firefighting tools, the US Forest Service Fire program has provided training to the local fire station. Since Yap has few firemen, the Forest Service program has also been working with communities.This has included the development of a Community Wildfire Preparedness Plan with the Municipality of Tomil, which has planted trees for a green belt to limit the spread of wildfires in their fire prone savannah site.

“Last week a US Forest Service Fire team came to Yap to provide practical hands-on training in fire suppression to enable the Tomil community to better manage their wildfires once they occur. The team consisted of Trudie Mahoney, Assistant Director, Fire and Aviation Management; Mark Courson, Technical Assistance Cadre Leader; and Ken Kempter and Dave Valencia, Fire Suppression Experts working in collaboration with Margie Falanruw, U.S. Forest Service IPIF; Ryan Talken and Pius Liyagel of Yap Division of Agriculture and Forestry, the Yap Division of Public Safety Fire & Rescue station, and the Municipality of Tomil TRCT which was well organized from upper leadership to youth.

“Tools were given to the community to assist with fire suppression, and basic fire suppression techniques were explained and training exercises performed by the community and Yap Division of Public Safety. Over 37 community members joined the training and community Fire “Captains” were chosen to assist with coordination and ensure that the training is an ongoing activity once the USFS Team has left Yap.

“The fire program is ongoing and other communities are invited to develop community wildfire preparedness plans as a first step in managing their wildfire problems.”

For more information or clarifications, contact Mr. Ryan Talken at DAF at Tel:(691)350-2183 during government working hours.

Resource: Yap State News Briefs (10/28/2015)

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