A Snowy Start to a Productive 2019 MNICS Annual Meeting

Despite a blizzard and 21 inches of snow in the Duluth area over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, the 2019 Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) meeting was held December 2-5, 2019, at the Holiday Inn Downtown Duluth. Over 150 MNICS partnering agency staff members participated in collaborative working meetings and general session presentations throughout the week.

There was a slight change to the agenda this year that allowed the MNICS Working Teams a full meeting day on Tuesday, December 3. In the past, Working Team meetings were held over two-half day sessions. This change allowed Task Force Representatives to meet with their Working Teams and participate in setting the priorities for the 2020 wildland fire season.

All working teams incorporated the discussion on how they plan to support the MNICS Type 3 Incident Management Teams. This year, the MNICS Working Teams were also tasked with finalizing their Working Team Charters. The Charters will identify each Working Team’s organizational structure and define their goals and objectives to help them to achieve the overall mission of MNICS.

The general session was held Wednesday through mid-day Thursday and incorporated the reports from the twelve MNICS Working Teams and the MNICS awards ceremony. Presentations during the general session focused on tribal lands, training opportunities in all-risk and prescribed fire and fuels, and the history of the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa.

Lee Frelich, Director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Forest Ecology, provided the keynote presentation on “A Changing Climate and Forest Fires in Minnesota.” Frelich’s engaging topic focused on the predictions of how climate change will affect Minnesota’s Boreal Forest landscape over the next 100 years. Based on past historical research and research conducted by the Center for Forest Ecology, Frelich explained how the continued rise in annual average temperature and changes in precipitation are setting the stage for more massive forest fires in Minnesota. The threat of larger fires poses a risk for drastic changes to Minnesota’s prairie and forest biomes.

The annual Wildland Fire Fighter Foundation silent auction raised over $750.00. Thank you to all who contributed silent auction items, and those who organized the successful event.

Congratulations to this year’s MNICS Award Recipients:

  • Legacy Award – Tom Kaase (MN DNR)
  • Leadership Award – Hans Smith
  • Retirement Award – Don Lantz (FWS), Linda Bruss (MN DNR), Paul Wannarka (MN DNR), and Kris Reichenbach (USFS)
  • Outstanding Performance – Rebekah Luedtke (MN DNR), Mike Wurst (MN DNR) and Jenny Benes (MN DNR)
  • Team Awards to The Type 3 Incident Management Team Sub-committee members, and the nine individuals who helped with the Alaska Emergency Demobilization of a MNICS crew member.