Southern Border Fuels Management

The Southern Border Fuels Management Initiative seeks to increase safety and visibility for our border patrol agents, improve national security, and increase landscape resilience through vegetation management along the United States-Mexico border.

Note: This page was last updated in 2020.

Civilian Conservation Corps volunteers clear brush along an access road near the US/Mexico border as part of the Southern Border Fuels Management Initiative. (James Gannon, Bureau of Land Management)

Quick Facts

800: Approximate miles of territory managed by the Department of the Interior along the US/Mexico border
40%: Percentage of border territory managed by the Department of the Interior along the US/Mexico border
6: number of fuels treatment projects funded in Fiscal Year 2019
$2.1 million: amount funded in Fiscal Year 2020
30: miles of fuel breaks completed in Fiscal Year 2019
79,371: number of acres treated Fiscal Year 2019


The Southern Border Fuels Management Initiative was introduced in 2018 as a targeted vegetation management strategy along the southern border. In addition to reducing the risk of unwanted or catastrophic wildfire, the initiative was designed to accomplish three primary objectives: 

  1. Protect natural and cultural resources on Federal and Tribal lands.
  2. Facilitate national security operations carried out by the Department of Homeland Security - United States Border Patrol. 
  3. Strengthen working ties between the Department of the Interior and Department of Homeland Security.

In coordination with the Department’s Interagency Borderland Coordinator and the U.S. Border Patrol, the Office of Wildland Fire developed policy guidance establishing program goals and objectives, as well as coordinated procedures for requesting funding and reporting accomplishments.  Project work is carried out by the Department’s four fire bureaus: the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


The above map of the Southern Border Initiative allows you to view and query details about specific projects: view the full screen version at (Craig Thompson, Office of Wildland Fire)


Project managers and wildland firefighters use prescribed fire, mechanical treatments, and other methods to reduce burnable vegetation that fuels wildfires in critical locations along the southern border. In addition to reducing the risk of unwanted wildfires, non-native plants are removed during these treatments, promoting the recovery of native plant and animal species. 

Fuels treatments along the southern border increase the protection of border facilities that are located on DOI and tribally-administered lands as well as improve viewsheds for towers that border patrol officers use to detect illegal activities along the border. As a long-term benefit, treated areas become more fire-resilient, increasing safety for firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and the public. The initiative also increases employment opportunities by prioritizing the hiring of veteran and Tribal fire crews.



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