Partners publish 2020 report on prescribed fire use in the U.S.

NASF and CPFC have released their latest report on the nationwide use of prescribed burning, which shows an encouraging upward trend in the utilization of Rx fire.

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, and now 2020) on prescribed fire activity. These reports remain the only description of survey data available on the use of prescribed fire nationwide.

“When applied appropriately in fire-dependent ecosystems, the use of prescribed fire is critical to maintaining forest health and function, providing habitat for wildlife, enhancing soil and water conservation, and promoting public health and safety,” said George Geissler, NASF Wildland Fire Committee chair and Washington state forester. “Our jointly prepared reports help to inform current prescribed fire projects and guide future programs with baseline information that underscores the efficacy of prescribed fire as a resource management tool.”

The 2020 National Prescribed Fire Use Report found that in 2019, for the first time, the total forest and rangeland acreage treated with prescribed fire eclipsed 10 million acres. Specifically, 10,003,541 acres were treated in 2019—an increase of 28% over the 2011 total.

“The CPFC is proud to partner with NASF to produce these one-of-a-kind reports on national prescribed fire use,” said Mark Melvin, CPFC chairman. “Fire is an ecological imperative for many forests and rangelands across North America. Conserving and promoting the wise use of prescribed fire is essential to the many land managers who use this tool to maintain healthy forests.”

This year’s report methodology differs from prior years in two primary ways: (1) the annual surveys it relies on have been administered sequentially, as opposed to every three years, and (2) agricultural acreage treated with prescribed fire has not be included in “treated acres” totals. Rationale for these changes is discussed in the full report, available here on NASF’s website.

Media Contact: Whitney Forman-Cook at wforman-cook@stateforesters.org