Hazardous Fuels Reduction/Biomass Programs
The Hazardous Fuels Reduction (HFR) program reduces the negative impact of wildland fires on people, communities, natural, and cultural resources. Heavy fuels accumulation and the altered composition and structure of vegetation (due in part to over a century of fire exclusion), combined with persistent drought, contribute to increased wildfire intensity, spread, and resistance to control in many parts of the United States. Management of these fires is made more difficult by the growth of communities adjacent to public lands, increasing the risk of homes and other structures to damage from wildfires, as they are close to where wildfires occur.
The HFR program removes or modifies wildland fuels to reduce the risk of intense wildfire behavior, lessen post-fire damage, limit the spread and proliferation of invasive species and diseases, and to restore and maintain healthy, diverse ecosystems. HFR treatment objectives are accomplished by reducing the risk of ignitions, and modifying vegetation to reduce fire behavior. HFR activities include fuels inventories and assessments, preparing sites for treatment, removing or reducing hazardous fuels, and monitoring and evaluating completed treatments. HFR projects are accomplished using prescribed fire, mechanical thinning, chemical applications, grazing, or combinations of these methods.
Those employed in the program work with communities to reduce wildfire risks through community education, collaborative planning, and prioritizing projects. The program emphasizes coordination, cooperation, and collaboration among Federal agencies, State, local, and tribal governments, and other stakeholders.
Since 2001, the Department has treated fuels on more than 14 million acres of Department-managed lands, thus significantly reducing the potential of identified values at risk to be damaged or destroyed by wildfire.
The removal or modification of wildland fuels can often result in residual vegetative material that can be put to use, rather than discarded or burned on site. These residuals, or biomass, can serve as part of a supply that may be used for bioenergy initiatives, among other uses. The Department of the Interior (DOI), along with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) coordinate their activities so as to demonstrate a commitment to develop and apply consistent and complementary policies and procedures across the departments to encourage utilization of woody biomass by-products that result from forest, woodland, and rangeland restoration and fuel treatments when ecologically, economically, and legally appropriate, and consistent with locally developed land management plans.
Additional information on biomass activities is available on the Woody Biomass webpage.
HFR Point of Contact:
Erik Christiansen, Fuels Management/Biomass Coordinator