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National Fire Plan – Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program

What this map layer shows:

The number of acres treated to reduce the risk of wildland fire, by county for fiscal year 2004 (October 2003 to September 2004).

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Background Information
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Though wildland fires play an integral role in many forest and rangeland ecosystems, decades of efforts directed at extinguishing every fire that burned on public lands have disrupted the natural fire regimes that once existed. Wildland fires also pose increasing threats to people and their property as communities develop in the wildland/urban interface (WUI) - areas where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or with vegetative fuels.

The National Fire Plan (NFP) was developed in August 2000, following a landmark wildland fire season, with the intent of actively responding to severe wildland fires while ensuring sufficient firefighting capacity for the future. The NFP provides technical, financial, and resource guidance and support for wildland fire management across the United States. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior work together to implement the five key points addressed by the NFP: firefighting, rehabilitation, hazardous fuels reduction, community assistance, and accountability. Field offices of five Federal wildfire management agencies and bureaus, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the USDA Forest Service, use the National Fire Plan Operations and Reporting System (NFPORS) to plan and report accomplishments funded by the NFP.

Hazardous fuels are dry brush and trees that have accumulated and increase the likelihood of unusually large wildland fires. In response to the risks posed by heavy fuels loads - the result of decades of fire suppression activities, sustained drought, and increasing insect, disease, and invasive plant infestations - the NFP established an intensive, long-term hazardous fuels reduction program. The program is intended to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildland fire while restoring forest and rangeland ecosystems to closely match their historical structure, function, diversity, and dynamics. Hazardous fuels are reduced through a variety of treatments which remove or modify wildland fuels, thereby reducing the potential for severe wildland fire behavior, lessening post-fire damage, and limiting the spread of invasive species and diseases. Treatments include:
  • Prescribed fires the deliberate burning of wildland fuels in either a natural or modified state and under specified environmental conditions, which allows the fire to be confined to a predetermined area. Examples include broadcast burns (burns within well-defined boundaries), jackpot burns (burns of natural or modified concentrations of fuels), and pile burns (burns of hand- or machine-piled fuels, confined to the perimeter of the pile.)
  • Mechanical treatments the manual or mechanical removal or modification of fuels. Examples include chipping, seeding, biomass removal, mowing, crushing, and piling.
  • Other treatments methods other than prescribed burns or mechanical treatments, such as application of herbicides, introduction of biological controls, or grazing.
The Healthy Forests Initiative and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act have equipped land managers with additional tools to achieve long-term objectives in reducing hazardous fuels and restoring fire-adapted ecosystems.

The National Fire Plan - Hazardous Fuels Reduction Program map layers were produced by the National Atlas of the United States® from NFPORS data and show hazardous fuels reduction accomplishments in the United States during fiscal year 2004 (October 2003 to September 2004). Included is information on the number of treated acres in each county, the treatment area normalized by the county's size, whether the work was considered to be in the WUI, and the kind of treatment method that was used.

Explanations of wildland fire terminology can be found in the National Wildfire Coordinating Group Glossary of Wildland Fire Terminology.