Firefighters use drip torches to light fuels, reducing fuel loads on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. (USFWS)
At the Department of the Interior we are proud of the accomplishment’s of our firefighters and natural resource land managers for exceeding the targets laid out in an Executive Order issued by President Trump.
The Executive Order directed the Department to promote the active management of America’s forests and rangelands to reduce wildfire risk. To support efforts under the Executive Order, the Department established goals under a Secretarial Order. The Secretary’s Order furthers the active management of our nation’s forests and rangelands to improve resource conditions and protect people, communities and infrastructure from wildfire risk. Through a Secretarial Order, Secretary Bernhardt further established goals to reduce wildfire risk and address post-wildfire rehabilitation across landscapes through collaborative efforts with tribes and local communities.
Fire risk reduction projects completed in 2019 include:
Reduced fuel loads on 1.4 million acres of DOI-administered lands, nearly twice the number of acres required under the Executive Order;
Protected water quality, mitigating flooding and erosion risks on 1.4 million acres of DOI-administered land, nearly three times the acres required;
750 million board feet of timber either planned for harvest or offered for sale, more than 25 percent greater than the target.
In addition to these accomplishments, we are developing the joint wildfire strategy required by the Executive Order and founded on the principles of collaboration to identify risk at the local level. Many of the studies and analyses completed under the Executive and Secretarial Order will support completion of the strategy. Jeff Rupert, the Director for the Office of Wildland Fire, highlighted this focus in his December Director’s Update.
Our work to reduce wildfire risk across our landscapes will continue to evolve, to incorporate active management principles into all land management planning efforts and help us to address the challenges of wildland fire into the future.
Katy O’Hara is the Partnership Program Lead for the Office of Wildland Fire. Katy also serves as a Public Information Officer with the Pacific Northwest Type 1 Incident Management Teams and is an active member of the Navy Reserve.