Prescribed fire and Cultural Burning Continued
integral part of the region’s forest health and fire management strategy. The Klamath Forest Alliance supports the use of prescribed fire to maintain resilient forest ecosystems and protect the region’s rural communities from the threat of wildfire. An increased emphasis on prescribed fire use will be essential if we are to allow fire a larger role in our forest ecosystems.
Wildland Fire Use
The Klamath Forest Alliance supports the management of wildland fire for resource benefit through Wildland Fire Use. Wildland Fire Use is the practice of utilizing unplanned ignitions for resource benefit, including forest health, fuel reduction, wildlife habitat management, and fire restoration objectives. Prescribed conditions outlined in a Fire Management Plan will detail the appropriate use of Wildland Fire Use. The strategy is particularly useful in the wilderness and roadless setting where sufficient biological legacies exist to facilitate relatively natural fire conditions. Wildland Fire Use can be utilized in combination with ecologically appropriate thinning operations and prescribed fire to provide very effective protection for communities that may be at risk to wildfire. Only through Wildland Fire Use can we realistically “treat” the number of acres needed to maintain resilient forest conditions. Wildland Fire Use is particularly applicable to designated wilderness areas and roadless areas, but should be considered for all relatively remote and sufficiently intact public lands.
Restorative Fire Management
Restorative Fire Management seeks to restore the
process of fire to as many acres as is responsible, necessary and beneficial in each fire event. Backburning and fire use during suppression activities should be conducted responsibly and with natural fire-generated patterns and mosaics in mind. The concept of loose herding is especially useful to fire managers looking to utilize Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics (MIST) and WFU for resource benefit. A confinement strategy could also be useful in smaller roadless areas or in those that border private residential lands. Fire management should incorporate principals and objectives of forest restoration, fire restoration and in many cases fuel reduction. Prescribed fire and WFU should be encouraged and fire safety needs balanced with the need for characteristic fire effects on the landscape. Agency firefighting personnel could steer fire away from areas and resources likely to be negatively impacted by fire and encourage areas that may benefit from fire to burn at characteristic fire severity levels.
A new way forward is needed and possible. Fire management does not exist in isolation of other resources and land management needs. An integrated, holistic approach is needed to restore and/or maintain fire-adapted ecosystems in the west. WFU must be utilized if we are to harness the beneficial effects of wildfire for forest health and fuel management objectives. Only managed wildfire has the potential to address the issue on the scale that is currently needed. Strategies and tactics that encourage prescribed fire and WFU in our more remote and pristine public lands can be developed to protect natural resources and rural communities.