|Forest Fire Lookout Association|
At the meeting of the FFLA Board at the 2012 Western Conference, directors present suggested that we try a phone hook-up for the up-coming January 2013 Annual Board meeting to make possible participation by directors who could not
travel to the meeting in person. We did and it proved a success. Of the 32 directors and officers on the board, four were there in person and 13 attended by phone for a total of 17. The format worked so well that we will use it again in January 2014.
The meeting was hosted by the Florida Forest Service at their historic Withlacoochee Forestry Center in central Florida. The opening program was presented by John Kerns, Region 3 Deputy Chief for Operations. In 1983 there were 204 fire towers in the state; today there are 101 divided into four categories: Primary, Secondary, Reserve and Surplus. There was discussion on ways to maintain some of those on the surplus list through local partnerships.
Six years ago a Snowbird Fire Observer
program was organized. Every winter a huge number of retirees come to Florida to escape the cold weather; they are known by the locals as "snowbirds." With many on fixed incomes, the idea was to provide a no-cost pad for an RV with water, electricity and sewer (about an $800/month value at an RV park) at fire tower locations in exchange for volunteer observer duty. The program had
promise, but a drawback developed when the "snowbirds" returned north in the spring, while fire danger was still high. Moreover, there was not as much continuing interest in the program as had been anticipated.
Following the success of the Fire Lookout Host programs in southern California, plus volunteer staffing programs in many states that still staff lookouts, there is interest in developing a new Florida Firewatchers program with the Florida
Forest Service, FFLA, and local community organizations. We are in the first step now, identifying the local groups that might participate and provide the volunteers. This will also be a good opportunity for FFLA to generate new members and supporters.
NEW FFLA.ORG WEBSITE UNVEILED
Years in the making, the new and improved FFLA website is up and running thanks to the diligent efforts of Webmaster Bill Cobb. Check it out. You'll be impressed with the huge amount of information about fire lookouts that is available and how easily it can be navigated.
WELCOME NEW OFFICERS
TWO SUMMER MEETINGS IN 2013