Dear Colleagues,

Many of you have followed the news around the Lower North Fork wildfire and the decision by Governor Hickenlooper and me to charge a working group to explore whether Colorado ought to move to a single, statewide point of contact, command, and control for fire management.

We felt intuitively that this streamlined level of accountability would likely be helpful in dealing with the chaos that so often surrounds a wildfire situation — and we asked our Chiefs-of-Staff, along with many other members of state government, to review best practices and come back to us with some recommendations.

Our goal is to ensure that, as a state, we are optimally positioned to protect Colorado as we enter this dry and dangerous fire season.

The working group has returned its report, and the Governor announced today that he supports their recommendation to centralize all the state’s fire-management functions within the Department of Public Safety (DPS). This move will involve relocating the fire management function of the Colorado State Forest Service and the Division of Emergency Management (currently in the Department of Local Affairs) to DPS by June 1. CSU fully supports this move.

The forest research and management aspects of the Colorado State Forest Service that fit with our mission will remain at CSU, and they will be fully available to any state agency where integration and application of this knowledge adds value for Colorado. This will also sustain the strong, collaborative working relationships that exist between CSFS and faculty and researchers in our Warner College of Natural Resources.

We believe this change is very manageable, and the University will fully support the CSFS and its people in transitioning these functions to DPS. At this point, we believe that this change will primarily impact internal processes and administrative functions, with relatively few changes to individual positions and organizational missions. CSFS leadership will be very involved and fully informed as we move forward with any changes. A copy of the working group’s report is available online. Visit the report: Review and Recommendations: Enhancing Fire Response and Management in Colorado State Government.

CSU greatly values and supports all the men and women of the CSFS and their roles in protecting the health and safety of Colorado’s people and forests. We remain proud of our historic relationship with the Forest Service and look forward to continuing to work closely together to serve Colorado.

Thanks again—

Dr. Tony Frank