Thursday, 20 November 2003: 8:00 AM
Wildland Fire Use—Evolution of a Program of Managing Wildland Fires for Resource Benefits
From its inception early in the 20th century, fire management developed as a strongly directed program with a one-dimensional focus of fire control. Following a name change to fire management in the early 1970’s, it evolved into a multi-dimensional program addressing both fire control and prescribed fire needs and opportunities. Prescribed natural fire became an accepted application for some federal agencies and served to accomplish restoration of historic fire regimes and maintenance and restoration of ecosystem health. Then in the 1990’s, the wildland fire management program evolved at an accelerated rate with marked advances related to establishment, direction, and application of the use of fire for beneficial purposes. Wildland fire use, the management of naturally-ignited wildland fires to accomplish specific pre-stated resource management objectives in pre-defined geographic areas outlined in Fire Management Plans, replaced prescribed natural fire as the operational strategy to accomplish resource benefits. Recent accomplishments in wildland fire use far exceed previous efforts to use fire to maintain and restore ecosystems. This paper describes the evolution of the wildland fire management program from fire control to one including wildland fire use, provides a synopsis of wildland fire use accomplishments, and discusses future program direction.