Bureau of Land Management

Clay Howe outside his office in North Palm Springs
Clay Howe
Clay Howe

Fire Mitigation/Education Specialist
Palm Springs-South Coast Fire Management

"You've got to MAKE the time to develop your people."

Clay Howe was born in La Jolla and is currently a resident of San Marcos, both are in San Diego County, so Clay ended up pretty close to where he began, speaking globally.  Growing up as a child Clay was enamored with the wildland fire fighting that he got to watch each summer.  Clay's father was a seasonal foreman with the Shasta Hotshots in the 1950's.  Firefighting is quite obviously in his blood.

As a teenager, Clay was involved with a Fire Explorer program, Explorers are the oldest level of Scouts, and programs such as these can be very near cadet-type experiences.  Clay stayed involved with the Explorers in Santee for four years.  In 1976 he started as an engine crewman at the Cleveland National Forest.

Clay is currently a Fire Mitigation/Education Specialist with the Bureau of Land Management.  In this role, as well as traditional fire prevention duties, he has been very successful at helping in the creation of Fire Safe Councils, Rural Fire Assistance grant opportunities, and thinking of creative solutions to prevention challenges.  For example, their program for Wildland/Urban Interface home owner education has been well received and has had a favorable impact.

While working with a Student Conservation Association, Clay and his partners had the opportunity to see immediate and positive results for their efforts.  Clay worked with this organization to create crucial "firebreaks", 100 foot clearance around homes.  Soon after they completed their work there was a major wildland fire and their defensible space came into its own, being tested in extreme conditions.  Only one home was lost along their targeted area, and that home was abandoned.  A fantastic victory for Clay and the Student Conservation Association!

Clay is also proud to point out that his team was a recipient of a Golden Smokey for their work in partnership with the Border Agency Fire Council.  A significant acknowledgement of their contributions to fire prevention.  Congratulations!

He has been with BLM for coming up on 10 years and in that time has also been an engine captain at Hole in the Wall, in the eastern Mojave, and has been a Fire Prevention Technician in Apple Valley.  Clay holds, aside from the main NWCG (National Wildfire Coordinating Group) courses, an A.S. in Fire Science, a teaching credential in Fire Science and is a California Certified Fire Officer.

When asked what "charges his batteries", Clay tells us that having an outdoor job is a big piece of it, saltwater fishing is another, but most important are his three grown children.  Both of Clay's daughters are married, Christine is a 7th-grade teacher and Erin is an escrow secretary.  Clay's son, Dana, is a Marine Corps Pilot Candidate...when we commented that Dana's career had to be a source of both pride and a bit of parental fear, Clay immediately quipped back, "I've watched him try to ride a bike!"

Did we miss anything Clay?  "Remember to give others the breaks that you've gotten, and you've got to make the time to develop your people!" he tells us.  Sounds like advice that is right on the money.

For more information concerning this feature story, contact Clay Howe by telephone 760-251-4800 or by e-mail
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