The latest report on the nationwide use of prescribed burning from the National Association of State Foresters and the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils reveals near record numbers, despite pandemic impacts in 2020.
WASHINGTON—Since 2011, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) and the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils (CPFC) have partnered to prepare reports (in 2012, 2015, 2018, 2020 and now 2021) on prescribed fire activity. These reports represent the only survey data available that depicts nationwide prescribed burning rates across state, federal and private lands. This year’s survey results revealed 9.4 million acres treated in 2020, the second highest number reported in survey history.
“Prescribed fire is a critical tool used for centuries to promote forest health and reduce the risk from wildfire, but the thought of using fire to fight fire can be off-putting, especially for those who have lived in wildfire-prone areas,” said George Geissler, NASF Wildland Fire Committee chair and Washington state forester. “This report—the fifth iteration of this biennial survey—will help inform current prescribed fire projects and support the expansion of prescribed fire use.”
The 2021 National Prescribed Fire Use Report, which for the first time shows acres treated by ownership type, revealed 1.5 million acres treated with prescribed fire on federal lands while nearly 8 million acres were treated on state and private lands in 2020. This indicates that 84% of all prescribed fire in the country occurred on state and private lands.
“The CPFC is honored to partner with NASF to produce these unique reports on national prescribed fire use,” said Mark Melvin, CPFC recently retired chairman. “It is clear that forest and rangeland owners and managers see significant value in using prescribed fire as a land management and hazardous fuels reduction tool.”
It is the intent of NASF and CPFC that the National Prescribed Fire Use Surveys serve as a means to foster partnerships that increase the appropriate use of prescribed burning as a natural resource management tool to enhance forest health while providing for enhanced public health and safety. Survey background, methodology and results are outlined in the full report, available here on NASF’s website.
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