A Year Round Fire Season?

Burning PineThere was a time when fire season for Western states meant only certain months out of the year. Not so long ago the U.S. Forest Service considered it primarily a summer problem with a few regions breaking the trend in early spring and late fall.

But climate change, according to most wildland fire experts, has turned fire season into a year-round issue.

What used to slow down fire season was winter—a long and cold time of year with lots of snow that killed off many invasive or destructive pests and filled rivers and reservoirs with ample water to supply the needs of millions living in the West.

BLM Announces Availability of Great Basin Science Tool

BLM LogoBOISE, ID - In opening remarks today at the conference, "The Next Steppe: Sage Grouse and Wildland Fire," Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Neil Kornze announced the release of the Northern Great Basin Rapid Ecoregional Assessment (REA), a next-generation tool for looking at the ecological health of this important geographic region.

"The BLM is using these regional assessments to identify the key challenges and opportunities that exist across the West," Kornze said. "By providing good, current science and looking across broad landscapes we can help ensure that decisions are being made with the best available information."

Forest Service and Partners Gear Up for Significant 2016 Wildfire Season

usfs logoCurrent Outlook Underscores Need to Reform Wildfire Funding

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell met today with Forest Service Regional Foresters to discuss preparations for anticipated significant wildland fire potential in 2016. The briefing comes as the 2016 fire season has begun with five times more acres already burned than this time last year, following 2015's record-setting fire season.

"The 2016 wildfire season is off to a worrisome start. Southern California, the Great Basin in Nevada, portions of the southwest, and even Florida and Hawaii are particularly vulnerable this year. In California, more than 40 million trees have died, becoming dry fuel for wildfire," said Vilsack. "Congress must take action now to ensure that we, and, ultimately the firefighters we ask so much of, have the resources to do the restoration and wildfire prevention work necessary to keep our forests healthy."

Forest Service Chief Predicts "Above Normal" Wildland Fire Potential in Much of the West

North Central U.S. Also Faces an Active Fire Year

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WASHINGTON, May 5, 2015 – U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell presented the Forest Service forecast on the upcoming 2015 fire season in testimony today before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Forest Service researchers expect 2015 to continue the trend of above average fire activity.

"Above normal wildland fire potential exists across the north central United States and above normal wildland fire potential will threaten many parts of the West this summer," said Chief Tidwell. "We anticipate another active fire year, underscoring the need to reform our wildfire funding."

Interior Announces 2017 Drone Mission Report

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BOISE, Idaho – With a fleet of 312 unmanned aircraft, the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of Aviation Services supported bureau operators, who flew nearly 5,000 missions in 2017, ranging from fighting wildfires to monitoring dams and spillways and mapping wildlife. The accomplishments of its unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drone program, can be found in a report announced today by DOI that summarizes flights made by more than 200 certified pilots in 32 states nationwide. 

Promoting Active Management of America's Forests, Rangelands, and Other Federal Lands To Improve Conditions and Reduce Wildfire Risk

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By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect people, communities, and watersheds, and to promote healthy and resilient forests, rangelands, and other Federal lands by actively managing them through partnerships with States, tribes, communities, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. For decades, dense trees and undergrowth have amassed in these lands, fueling catastrophic wildfires. These conditions, along with insect infestation, invasive species, disease, and drought, have weakened our forests, rangelands, and other Federal lands, and have placed communities and homes at risk of damage from catastrophic wildfires.

Statement from Secretary Tom Vilsack on Ongoing Devastating Wildfire Season

usda-mastheadWASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2015 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack today made the following statement:

"This year, we are experiencing yet another devastating wildfire season, particularly in the drought-ravaged West. Climate change, drought, fuel buildup, insects and disease are increasing the severity of unprecedented wildfire in America's forests and rangelands, which impacts the safety of people, homes and communities. Development close to forests has also increased the threat to property, with more than 46 million homes in the United States, or about 40 percent of our nation's housing, potentially at risk from wildfire.

USDA Forest Service Announces New Strategy for Improving Forest Conditions

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Washington, D.C., August 16, 2018  — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service (USFS) announced today a new strategy for managing catastrophic wildfires and the impacts of invasive species, drought, and insect and disease epidemics.

Specifically, a new report titled Toward Shared Stewardship across Landscapes: An Outcome-based investment Strategy (PDF, 3.7 MB) outlines the USFS’s plans to work more closely with states to identify landscape-scale priorities for targeted treatments in areas with the highest payoffs.

Wildfires and Washington: How Congress Can Stop Catastrophe Before It Starts

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Opinion: Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah)

Charred landscapes, torched buildings and the loss of property and life. These are the consequences of massive wildfires. Most Americans in the Eastern United States aren’t acquainted with this type of destruction. However, these scenes are all too familiar for those of us who live in the West.  

Congress and the U.S. Forest Service have the opportunity now to stop catastrophic wildfires before they start. This is not some pie-in-the-sky hyperbole coming from Washington. It’s a realistic goal, achievable by using proven science to manage our country’s forests.  

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