Fire MOU Partnership

The following agencies and partners are members of the MOU Partnership:

USDA, Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region
Sierra Forest Legacy
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)
State of California Sierra Nevada Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy
USDI, National Park Service Pacific Region
The Wilderness Society
The Sierra Club
Center for Biological Diversity
Northern California Prescribed Fire Council
Southern Sierra Prescribed Fire Council
Pacific Forest Trust
Audubon Canyon Ranch
Pepperwood Preserve
Center for Fire Research and Outreach, UC Berkeley
Center for Forestry, UC Berkeley
USDI, Bureau of Land Management
The California Forestry Association
California State Parks and Recreation
Central Coast Prescribed Fire Council
Southern California Edison
Central SIerra Environmental Resource Center
Terra Fuego Resource Foundation
California Wildlife Foundation/California Oaks
El Dorado Air Quality Management District
Butte County Air Quality Management District
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
American Rivers
Placer County Air Quality Management District

Click here to view and download a current poster of the Fire MOU Partnership membership.

Steps to joining the Partnership:

Step 1. Read the Fire MOU*

Step 2. Read the Meeting Notes (Kick-Off Meeting, Feb. 2-3, 2016). The structure of the working groups is detailed in these notes, so be sure to read this before filling out the application form.

Step 3. Read the Welcome Letter

Step 4. Fill out the MOU Partnership Initiation Form and return to Steering Committee. Further information is in the Welcome Letter.

* Please note that the original 2015 MOU lists only the original signatories and does not include partners who have joined since then.

Wildfire Awareness Week 2016

Image above: May 2, 2016 Wildfire Awareness Week press conference with Governor Brown, CalFire, U.S. Forest Service, and state Office of Emergency Services

Latest news...

November 1- 2, 2017

The first phase of prescribed burning in the Caples Creek Watershed Ecological Restoration Project took place on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 1 and 2, 2017. Congratulations and a special thank you goes to our partners who put so much effort into making this first step in the project a reality: the Eldorado National Forest and especially retired district ranger Duane Nelson, USFS; El Dorado Irrigation District; and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Learn more about the project here, and on the Forest Service project webpage, here.

August 6, 2017

We are happy to be able to share this slide presentation by forest vegetation ecologist Malcolm North. It summarizes and expands the key findings from the paper listed below (North, Collins, and Stephens 2012). It's loaded with great graphics and data. Enjoy! Download here: North, Malcolm 2017. Presentation at National Cohesive Strategy, Reno, Nevada April 2017.

May 8, 2017: Wildfire Awareness Week. Listen to Capitol Public Radio interview with CALFIRE Director Ken Pimlott; Rob Griffith, U.S. Forest Service; and Craig Thomas, SIerra Forest Legacy (9 AM, 90.9 FM).

The following research supports the topics discussed in the interview.

Fire MOU Partnership presentation, May 2017.

North, M., Collins, M., and Stephens, S. 2012. Using fire to increase the scale, benefits, and future maintenance of fuels treatments. J. For. 110(7):392–401.

North, M., A. Brough, J. Long, B. Collins, P. Bowden, D. Yasuda, J. Miller, and N. Sugihara. 2015. Constraints on mechanized treatment significantly limit mechanical fuels reduction extent in the Sierra Nevada. J. For. 113(1):40-48.

Calkin, D.E., Thompson, M.P., and M.S. Finney. 2015. Negative consequences of positive feedbacks in US wildfire management. Ecosystems. 2(9): 1-10.

Taylor, A.H., Trouet, V., Skinner, C., and S. Stephens. 2016. Socioecological transitions trigger fire regime shifts and modulate fire–climate interactions in the Sierra Nevada, USA, 1600–2015 CE. PNAS. 113(48):13684-13689.

Boisramé, Gabrielle, et al. Managed wildfire effects on forest resilience and water in the Sierra Nevada. Ecosystems (2016): 1-16.

Long, J.W., Tarnay, L.W., and M.P.North. 2017, in press. Aligning Smoke Management with Ecological and Public Health Goals. J. Forestry 115:000-000. Published online January 19, 2017.

Schoennagel, T., Balch, J.K., Brenkert-Smith, H., Dennison, P.E., Harvey, B.J., Krawchuk, M.A., Mietkiewicz, N., Morgan, P., Mortiz, M.A., Rasker, R., Turner, M.G., and C. Whitlock. Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes. PNAS. Released for early edition. doi:10.1073/pnas. 16174641114.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for more literature on these topics; explore the links on the left side of this page, more in Fire Science; and in Community Protection.

April 27, 2017: Water Deeply (
100 Million Dead Trees: A Danger That Persists Long After the Drought

November 28, 2016Water Deeply (
New Study Finds Surprising Culprit Drives Forest Fire Behavior by Jane Braxton Little

July 1, 2016 From the Atlantic, CityLab
What California Can Learn From How the South Manages Wildfires -- As deadly wildfires blaze, experts are calling on the state to emulate the South’s long tradition of prescribed burning

May 23, 2016 U.S. Forest Service Plans to Let Blazes Burn Amid Predictions of Fiery Summer. Read all about it, here.

May 10, 2016 Listen to interview with Craig Thomas of Sierra Forest Legacy on "Soundings," with Alan Stahler at KVMR Radio, Nevada City. Download the MP3 file here.

May 5, 2016 Months after the Rough Fire, Millions of Giant Sequoia Seedlings Take Root. Click here to view photos and link to NPR story, or click here to listen to the audio.

May 1-7, 2016 Wildfire Awareness Week

Listen to Capitol Radio's Insight program interview with Craig Thomas of Sierra Forest Legacy and Jim Branham of Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

February 2, 2016 Fire MOU Partnership Kick-Off Meeting

On February 2, 2016, Federal and State agency officials met with conservation and community fire protection groups to kick off the inaugural workshop for a Memorandum of Understanding to promote the careful and expanded use of fire for natural resource and other social benefits in California. Wildland fuels are continuing to build up and wildfires are growing larger and more difficult to control, especially in light of California’s extended drought experience and changing climate. These factors have helped bring this unique partnership together. Citing recent fire science (see below) and large, damaging wildfires like the Rim, King, Valley, and Butte fires, this new fire partnership is calling for an expanded response and a broader suite of tools to restore resilience and protect communities across California’s rural landscape.

Download the MOU.
Read the Meeting Notes.

Read the press release here.

Follow these links for additional supporting information:

US Forest Service All Lands Approach to Ecological Restoration
Region 5 Ecological Restoration Initiative - Leadership Intent
The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy
Governor Brown's State of Emergency Proclamation and State of California Tree Mortality Task Force
State of California Strategic Fire Plan
Sierra Nevada Conservancy
Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program

Supporting Research

Download additional fire and air quality science research, below.

Fire and Air Policy

2016 group scientists' letter re: The fire challenge: Increasing fire use for natural resource benefits, carbon stability and protection of public health. Jan. 22, 2016. Sent to USDA, US EPA, USDI, and CEQ

North, M.P., S.L. Stephens, B.M. Collins, J.K. Agee, G. Aplet, J.F. Franklin, and P.Z. Fule. 2015. Reform forest fire management - Agency incentives undermine policy effectiveness. Science 349(6254):1280-81 (625 KB PDF)

North, M.P., A. Brough, J. Long, B. Collins, P. Bowden, D. Yasuda, J. Miller, and N. Sugihara. 2015. Constraints on mechanical treatment in the Sierra Nevada. J. of Forestry 113(1):40-48.(779 KB PDF)

Also see summary of the above paper in Research Brief for Research Managers, California Fire Science Consortium.

Air Quality Science

Cisneros, R., Schweizer, D., Preisler, H., Bennett, D.H., Shaw, G., Bytnerowicz, A.  2014. Spatial and seasonal patterns of particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California. Atmospheric Pollution Research 5 (2014) 581-590 (1.4 MB PDF)

Schweizer, D. and R. Cisneros. 2014. Wildland fire management and air quality in the Southern Sierra Nevada: Using the Lion Fire as a case study with a multi-year perspective on PM 2.5 impacts and fire policy. J. of Environ. Management. 144:265-278. (2.77 MB PDF)

Schweizer, D. et al. 2017. Using National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter to assess regional wildland fire smoke and air quallity management. J. Env. Mgmt. 201 (2017) 345-356.

Fire and Climate Science

Hurteau, M.D., A. L. Westerling, C. Wiedinmyer, and B.P. Bryant. 2014. Projected effects of climate and development on California wildfire emissions through 2100. Environ. Sci. Technol. 48:(2298-2304). (1.7 MB PDF)

Meyer, M.D. 2015. Resource objective wildfires benefit resource. Research Brief for Research Managers, California Fire Science Consortium. (627 KB PDF)

North, M., Collins, M., and Stephens, S. 2012. Using fire to increase the scale, benefits, and future maintenance of fuels treatments. J. For. 110(7):392–401 (302 KB PDF). 

Stephens, S.L., R.E. Martin, and N.E. Clinton. 2007. Prehistoric Fire Area and Emissions from California’s Forests, Woodlands, Shrublands, and Grasslands. Forest Ecology and Management,2007 (363KB PDF).

Sheep Fire

Image left: Managed fire at Kings River, Sequoia National Forest, 2010 Photo credit: Brandon Dethlefs, National Park Service (Sheep Fire)