USDA Forest Service Will Resume Prescribed Fire Program
WASHINGTON D.C. – On Thursday, September 8, 2022, USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore released the following statement announcing actions the Forest Service will take to resume its prescribed fire program safely and effectively after completion of its 90-day national review.
“Today, I am announcing the release of the National Prescribed Fire Program Review. After thorough evaluation of the findings and recommendations provided by the National Review Team, I have decided to conditionally resume the Forest Service’s prescribed fire program. Recognizing that wildfire, drought and other extreme conditions are affecting parts of the country, prescribed fires will not occur on National Forest System lands until all recommendations have been implemented at each location and only when local conditions have been certified as appropriate for a prescribed fire on the day of the proposed burn.
“These recommendations are tactical approaches we can use to account for the multiple factors affecting practitioners’ ability to carry out prescribed burns safely and effectively. These actions will ensure prescribed fire plans are up to date with the most recent science, that key factors and conditions are closely evaluated the day of a prescribed burn, and that decisionmakers are engaged in those burns in real time to determine whether a prescribed burn should be implemented.
“On May 20, 2022, I temporarily paused prescribed burning on National Forest System lands nation-wide for 90 days to conduct a national review of our prescribed fire program. Although prescribed fire is one of the most effective ways to reduce wildfire risk, this was a necessary decision in light of recent prescribed fire escapes that had devastating impacts on communities and natural resources. The decision also reflected the growing recognition that extreme conditions of overgrown forests, climate change, a growing number of homes in the wildland-urban interface and more than a century of rigorous fire suppression are influencing fire behavior in ways we had never seen before.
“We have decades of experience using prescribed fire. However, what we learned most during this review is that we cannot overly rely on past success. We must continuously learn and adapt to changing conditions so we can be at our best to protect communities and care for the lands and natural resources we manage on behalf of the public.
“I am confident in our employees and know we are capable of learning and adapting to these challenges. I encourage everyone to read the full report, its recommendations and my opening statement at the Wildfire Lessons Learned website.
“Prescribed fire plays a vital role in creating healthy, resilient landscapes and reducing the risk of catastrophic fire to the American people and the lands entrusted to our care. We are fully committed to using this critical tool safely and effectively in collaboration with Tribes, partners, and communities. We must work together to reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfire and confront the wildfire crisis across the country.”