Department of the Interior Takes Aim at Reducing the Threat of Wildland Fire

Updated tool helps managers plan fuels management projects

Last edited 06/07/2023
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WASHINGTON D.C. – Working to continually improve wildland fire suppression efforts, the U.S. Department of the Interior and its partners launched an updated tool for wildland fire managers. Updates to the Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System (system) will allow fire managers the ability to acquire and analyze fire data in one application. The updated system will improve managers’ ability to plan for and carry out fuels management projects – such as prescribed fires – that are key to reducing the threat of severe wildfires, particularly in areas in or adjacent to urban centers. Previously, these capabilities were only available in multiple systems, reducing the flexibility that managers had in planning projects and limiting their timeliness.

“A robust fuels management program supports wildfire suppression efforts by reducing the size and severity of wildfires, particularly in areas near the wildland urban interface,” said Bryan Rice, Director of Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire (OWF). “This updated system enables more advanced and active land management by providing the detailed information to more fully evaluate risks of planned and unplanned fires in relation to the people we serve and landscapes we protect.”

Fuels management projects such as prescribed fires, mechanical treatments, and chemical treatments are cost effective investments that provide significant benefits to local communities. Strategically targeted projects play a critical role in mitigating wildfire behavior, enhancing the safety and effectiveness of wildfire response, reducing wildfire risk, and safeguarding people and property. They also promote wildlife habitat and help watersheds become more resilient to the potentially damaging effects of wildfires. Last year, Interior in coordination with its partners treated over 1 million acres of Federal, state, local, and private land.

The updated system can be used to perform a variety of functions, including the analysis of fire behavior and fire effects. Both measures are critical planning tools for fuels management projects. The system is also a repository for key data that can be used for future analysis and reporting.

The system streamlines the wildland fire and fuels planning process, allowing planners and specialists to use one system to evaluate and analyze the landscapes they manage and strategically target projects across all jurisdictions, including Federal, Tribal, State and local lands. The system increases data processing reliability and standardization and is accessible to Federal agencies and their partners. To learn more about the updated system a short video is available.

The updated system was developed by the Wildland Fire Management Research, Development, and Application Team, a collaborative effort led by Interior’s OWF and the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (USDAFS). Through an interagency approach, Interior’s Wildland Fire Information and Technology initiative continues to integrate data, science, and technology into its wildland fire efforts and capitalizes on advancements to better inform and support management of fuels, vegetation, and landscape ecology which helps maximize the firefighting resources of all involved agencies.

The OWF leads budget oversight and programmatic governance for Interior’s wildland fire program. Representing the Secretary of the Interior, OWF bridges the individual fire programs of the four land management bureaus as well as supporting the wildland fire needs of all the bureaus across Interior to create an integrated and cohesive department-wide fire program. The Federal wildland fire management efforts are coordinated by OWF, which supports the principles and goals of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. A more detailed review of the past year’s fire season and specific agency initiatives can be found in the annual report developed collaboratively with the USDAFS.

The estimated number of wildfires for Federal, Tribal, State and local jurisdictions during Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 was almost 68,000 fires, which is 92% of the 10-year annual average. Across the U.S. more than 5.5 million acres burned in FY 2016, representing 79% of the national 10-year average. The U.S. is continuing to experience increasing frequency of large wildfires and longer wildfire seasons, which are now almost 3 months longer and in some parts of the country are all year round. The 2017 wildfire season is already upon us with early season fires breaking out in Colorado, the southeast, and the southern plains. Year-to-date, over 2.2 million acres have burned, 4 times the national 10-year average.

More information on wildland fire management in the United States can be found online at or


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