To create a wildland fire management program that's effective and efficient, the Department of Interior cultivates partnerships with a wide range of Federal agencies, States, Tribes, local land managers, and other stakeholders.
The members of a United States Task Force and their Australian Liaison at the end of their deployment to Victoria, Australia. Over 360 federal employees played a role supporting Australia’s historic bushfire season between November 2019 and March 2020. (DOI/Neal Herbert)
2: Number of Cabinet-level agencies that manage wildland fire (Department of Agriculture & Department of the Interior)
13: Number of Federal government bureaus and offices that directly or indirectly support wildland fire management.
26: Number of research projects completed as part of the Joint Fire Science Program in 2021
400: Number of partnerships with formal grants and agreements managed by the Department of the Interior to support wildland fire and fuels management across the country.
In wildland fire management you really can’t go it alone. Facing the challenges posed by a force of nature that burns across landscapes without regard for ownership or administrative boundaries requires a lot of collaboration. On any wildfire you'll find people wearing yellow shirts, green pants, high leather boots, and low-slung packs. The uniformity of their appearance might give the impression that a single command guides their efforts. In fact, a firefighter may work for any one of the dozens of Federal agencies, Tribes, State institutions, cities, and private companies that work together to meet the challenges of one of the most complex and high risk activities in land management. Welcome to the wildland fire community.
The core of the "all hands, all lands" approach of today's wildland fire management lies in a National Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy that recognizes the importance of shared priorities on shared landscapes. The strategy identifies three goals that anchor our holistic approach to managing wildland fire across the country:
Cooperative agreements between members of the wildland fire community allow us to share resources (including people and equipment) in order to work more efficiently to protect people and communities. An Executive Order issued in December 2018 reaffirmed the Federal government’s commitment to collaboration and partnerships at the state and local level.
Wildland fire will always be with us. It’s an element of nature with the power to restore as well as ruin. After spending a century fighting fire, even trying to stamp it out entirely, we now work to build resilience to it. Partnerships hold the key to long-term wildland fire management that protects people, their property, as well as the natural and cultural resources we all enjoy.
One of the primary partnerships in wildland fire exists between the two Cabinet-level agencies that manage wildland fire on behalf of the Federal government: the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior. These agencies collaborate on planning, policy, response, technology, and many other aspects of wildland fire management. The people most likely to be wearing yellow shirts work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the U.S. Forest Service.
Within the Department of the Interior several offices support the work of wildland fire management, including the Office of Wildland Fire, the Office of Aviation Services, and the Office of Policy Analysis.
A handful of other government agencies play specific roles in the wildland fire community, like the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Fire Administration, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Weather Service.
A number of organizations facilitate collaboration with local governments, State agencies, Tribal entities, and other stakeholders in the wildland fire community:
* Lands managed by the Department of the Interior share 23,900 miles of border with Native American and Alaska Native lands. Their proximity and interconnectedness necessitates collaboration on wildland fire management in order to protect Tribal communities, economies, sacred landscapes, and traditional uses of natural resources. On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Interior signed a memorandum of understanding with the Intertribal Timber Council to improve collaboration on wildland fire management across department and Tribal lands.
Since the threat of wildfires extends beyond our borders, the wildland fire community extends beyond them as well. We exchange wildland fire knowledge, expertise, equipment, and personnel through international agreements with Australia, Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand. Australia and New Zealand have sent fire suppression personnel to the United States six times since 2000, most recently in 2018. We’ve sent fire suppression personnel to Australia six times since 2003. We share personnel and equipment with Canada virtually every year.
A number of interagency groups and partnerships provide space for coordination and collaboration around specific issues:
You can play an active role in building resilience to wildland fire. Learn what you can do to protect your home, your community, and more at Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, FirewiseUSA, and Ready, Set, Go!.