BLM High Plains District, partners host Tunisian Office of Civil Protection official

Story and photos by Tyson Finnicum, Public Affairs Specialist

In August, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming High Plains District fire staff and the Wyoming State Forestry Division (WSFD) assisted the Wyoming National Guard in hosting special guests from the African nation of Tunisia.

Tunisia is Wyoming’s “sister country” through the Department of Defense State Partnership Program. Since 2004, the Wyoming National Guard has partnered with the country to assist with training and development, engineering, aviation, and disaster preparedness.

Arriving by Black Hawk helicopter, Colonel-Major Moez Triaa of Tunisia’s Office of Civil Protection was escorted to the Casper Interagency Dispatch Center and Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) base where he was met by BLM and WSFD to learn about the facilities and wildland firefighting in Wyoming. The Tunisian Office of Civil Protection covers all aspects of protecting life and property in the country, including search and rescue, disaster relief, and both structural and wildland fire response.

Eight members of the group stand in front of a plane.
Left to right: JT Capers, Aerotech SEAT Pilot; Maj. Adam Oswalt, Wyoming National Guard; Chris Fallbeck, Wyoming State Forestry; Bill Crapser, Wyoming State Forestry Division; Moez Triaa, Tunisia Civil Protection; Craig Short, BLM High Plains District; Jerod Delay, Wyoming State Forestry Division; and Ali Raddaoui, University of Wyoming.

BLM Fire Management Officer Craig Short and Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser discussed the importance of partnerships and the intricacies of fire management that come along with fragmented surface ownership in Wyoming. This issue doesn’t exist in Tunisia where all of the firefighting resources are federal.

A Wyoming State Forester points to a map describing the land ownership patterns in eastern Wyoming to an audience of three other men.
Jerod Delay from Wyoming State Forestry and Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser describe the land ownership patterns in eastern Wyoming and how the varying levels of local, state, and federal agencies collaborate to fight wildfires.

Triaa, speaking through interpreter Ali Raddaoui, was interested to hear how the various agencies collaborate and share responsibilities like cost and post-fire rehabilitation. He was particularly excited to learn more about the similarities and differences in how we communicate and track resources, including the technology we use.

A SEAT pilot stands next to the window of his plane and is talking to two other men and giving them a run-through of his plane.
SEAT Pilot Mike Miller gives Colonel-Major Moez Triaa and interpreter Ali Raddaoui a run-through of his plane.

Tunisia and Wyoming share similarities such as recreation and other economic interests. In addition, their landscapes look surprisingly similar from the view of a helicopter, according to Major Adam Oswalt with the Wyoming National Guard.