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Forest Service temporarily halts prescribed burns on National Forest System lands

Creating team to review agency's prescribed burn program
Posted at 7:33 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 21:41:15-04

The U.S. Forest Service is pausing prescribed burns on National Forest System lands and reviewing its prescribed burn program, Forest Service Chief Randy Moore announced Friday.

In an update posted to the Forest Service's website, Moore cited extreme fire conditions in the Southwest and "15 uncontained large fires nationwide" as the reason for the pause.

Moore said a review team will look over the agency's prescribed fire protocols, decision support tools and practices. He estimated the process to take 90 days.

"Prescribed fire plays an important role in forest management. These burns are intended to reduce hazardous fuel loads caused by debris that has built up in the forest understory, thereby reducing wildfire risk. And they top the list of essential tools managers need to use for improving forest conditions," Moore said in his update. "Yet climate change, drought, dry fuels throughout the country and other factors have led to increasingly extreme wildfires, so we must change the way we make decisions about when and where to burn."

The Forest Service created a 10-year plan to tackle what it's calling a wildfire crisis. That plan includes prescribed burns, and even increases the number of prescribed burns in the West up to four times, according to the chief. Moore said the temporary stop will have minimal impact on the agency's short-term and long-term plans since 90% of prescribed burns happen outside of June, July and August.