Fire Policy

Federal Fire Management Policy

Federal policy that dictates fire management on federal public lands (including national forest lands in the Sierra Nevada) has evolved significantly over the last two decades. The following documents we've posted here include the existing policy that was amended in 2001, the 2009 updated implementation guide for fire management agencies, and the final phase National Strategy.

These policy documents are essential to understand how fire is managed on federal lands in California's national forests. Each individual natural forest is also required to have a fire management plan. Forest Plan revisions provide an important avenue through which to support the new National Strategy, which calls for an increase in prescribed fire and wildland fire use to reduce fuels and promote fire resilience in our forests.

Please explore all the pages in the "In this section" menu to your left. Managing fire and prescribed fire are the theme of this section of our website, and each page has additional information and links to science literature, policy documents, etc. relating to prescribed fire and its vital role in the health and ecology of the forests of the Sierra Nevada--and its role in preventing tragic and unneccesary losses of life and property from uncontrollable fire.

Download the policy documents here.

Black, A. et al. 2004. Wildland Fire Use: The "Other" Treatment Option. Environmental Consequences Fact Sheet #6, from Fuels Planning: Science Synthesis and Integration. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Research Note RMRS-RN-23-6-WWW.

Black, A., Williamson, M., and Doane, D. 2008. Wildland Fire Use Barriers and Facilitators. Fire Management Today. 68(1):10-14.

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.

Silvas-Bellanca, Karina. 2011. Ecological Burning in the Sierra Nevada: Actions to Achieve Restoration. White Paper produced by Sierra Forest Legacy.

Stephens, S. and Ruth, L. 2005. Federal Forest-Fire Policy in the United States. Ecological Applications 15(2):532-542.

USDI, USDA, DOE, DOD, EPA, NOAA, et al. 2001. Review and Update of the 1995 Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy. National Interagency Fire Center, Boise, ID.

USDI, USDA, National Association of State Foresters, et al. 2008. Quadrennial Fire Review. National Interagency Fire Center, Boise, ID.

USDA and USDI. 2009. Guidance for Implementation of Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy.

USDA and USDI. 2014. The National Strategy: The Final Phase Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (The National Strategy).

California Policies for Prescribed Burning

In addition, Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations provide guidance for agricultural burning, download below. We've also included a CARB Fact Sheet for prescribed burning and smoke management. Download the documents, below.

California Air Resources Board. 2003. Fact Sheet for Prescribed Burning and Smoke Management.

California Code of Regulations, Title 17, Subchapter 2. Smoke Management Guidelines for Agricultural and Prescribed Burning.

Additional Links and Research

DellaSala, D.A., J.E. Williams, C.D. Williams, and J.E. Franklin. 2004. Beyond smoke and mirrors: a synthesis of fire policy and science. Conservation Biology. 18, 976-986 (343KB PDF).

Dombeck, M. P., J. E. Williams, and C. A. Wood. 2004. Wildfire policy and public lands: integrating scientific understanding with social concerns across landscapes. Conservation Biology 18, 883-889 (218KB PDF).

O’Laughlin, J. 2005. Policy Issues Relevant to Risk Assessments, Balancing Risks, and the National Fire Plan: Needs and Opportunities. Forest Ecology and Management, 2005 (166KB PDF).