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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Parks Stewardship Forum

UC Berkeley

Peering through the smokescreen of success with ecological fire use: A pilot study of three USFS Regions’ 2018–2019 wildfire seasons

  • Author(s): Beasley, Mike;
  • Ingalsbee, Timothy
  • et al.

This paper explores current levels of Wildland Fire Use (WFU) as a tool for managing wildfires for resource and ecological benefits. In 2009 new policy guidance for the federal Wildland Fire Policy represented a major advance towards a paradigm shift of ecological fire management by allowing wildfires to be managed for both protection and restoration objectives simultaneously. However, at the same time WFU was eliminated as a distinct category of wildfire incident, and since then, a number of abstract, deliberately vague terms have become common surrogates for WFU. We analyzed suppression documents from wildfires managed by the US Forest Service in three USFS Regions during 2018–2019. Results show that in some USFS Regions there may be more WFU for resource/ecological benefits occurring than is officially acknowledged, obscured by the various euphemisms for WFU that are limiting public recognition of ecological fire management success.

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