"Managing the Landscape for Fire A Three-Zone, Landscape-Scale Fire"
ECOLOGY AND ECONOMICS RESEARCH DEPARTMENT SEPTEMBER 2006 • Number 4 Managing the Landscape for Fire: THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY A Three-Zone, Landscape-Scale Science & Policy Report Fire Management Strategy Background in forest health, starving fire-dependent Fire has shaped America’s public lands ecosystems of regular fire cycles and cre- for millennia. From ponderosa pine ating unhealthy fuel loads that can lead forests that burn every few decades to to unnaturally large wildfires in some spruce-fir stands that erupt into flame places. All too often, however, land and every few centuries, most forests have resource management plans (LRMPs), evolved with fire and depend on period- the documents that guide all major deci- ic blazes for their health and regenera- sions affecting federal lands, are devised tion. Fire is such an important force in with only cursory consideration of the U. S. ecosystems that vegetation and fire important ongoing role of fire in the cannot be described independently. landscape. Even though broad scientific Just as vegetation and fire are inti- consensus now exists regarding the cru- mately connected, land management cial role fire plays in ecosystem sustain- and fire management must also be inex- ability, few LRMPs specifically address tricably linked. In the last decade, poli- fire management needs. cymakers and forestry experts have come Because of the intimate connection to recognize that a century of fire sup- between land and fire, LRMPs must pression policies have created a “crisis” themselves be fire plans, and land PHOTO BY KAREN WATTENMAKER Wind-driven crown fires are a natural part of the ecology of Alaska’s boreal forest. The homeowners who survived this fire adapted their surroundings to fit the ecology of the landscape. A THREE-ZONE, LANDSCAPE-SCALE FIRE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY PAGE 2 managers must work to accommodate achieve plan objectives. Public lands, fire in the development of all LRMPs. If with their large tracts of undeveloped LRMPs fail to account for the role of areas, provide federal agencies with a fire on a landscape scale, other manage- vital opportunity to use natural fire to ment failures are sure to follow. For achieve social and ecological goals. example, timber production schedules This report outlines a simple model to must take into account the certainty of address wildland fire comprehensively fire, or else inevitable fires will foil across landscapes and describes how that expectations by consuming growing model may be applied to the develop- stock and reducing future harvests. Sim- ment of LRMPs. ilarly, landscape-scale objectives, like the maintenance of sufficient wildlife Landscape Fire Planning Zones habitat to sustain viable populations, Land and resource management plans can only be achieved by relying on the are, at their core, documents that define landscape-scale process of fire. LRMPs relationships between landscapes and must be developed to account for natur- people. In any landscape, there are three al fire and use it wherever possible to situations with regard to communities and fire. Key Points • First, there are those situations • Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs) too often fail to where fire has the potential to incorporate fire management as an essential part of the planning cause great damage to people and process, giving only cursory consideration to the important role of homes, and should always be fire in the landscape. excluded. Areas where wildlands • Federal agencies should standardize the inclusion of fire-manage- come into contact with communi- ment goals into LRMPs by using a three-zone strategy that helps ties — the wildland-urban inter- managers determine the appropriate level of mitigation against, face — are an example. preparation for, and response to, the inevitable wildland fire. • Second, there are places where fire • The “Community Fire Planning Zone” (CFPZ) is the area within a can be used as a tool to reduce half-mile of communities in which fire should generally be exclud- fuels and restore ecosystems, but ed. Land managers should seek opportunities to improve public safe- only under tightly prescribed con- ty through infrastructure improvement and fuel treatment to pro- ditions. tect homes. • Third, there are places where fire • The “Wildfire Resilience Zone” (WRZ) extends a few miles beyond poses little risk to people and the CFPZ to a distance where it is safe to consider management resources, and natural fires can approaches in addition to aggressive initial attack. Within the actually help achieve management WRZ, suppression will be the response to unplanned fire, but pre- objectives, such as fuel reduction scribed fire and mechanical thinning may be used to protect critical and provision of wildlife habitat. resource values and restore conditions that are resilient to We recommend that federal agencies inevitable fires. develop a landscape-scale, three-zone fire • The “Fire Use Emphasis Zone” (FUEZ) is the area beyond the management strategy across each admin- WRZ, where the full range of management responses to fire (from istrative unit that reflects these three sit- suppression to allowing natural fire) is possible. In these wilderness, uations, and that they incorporate these roadless, and remote roaded areas, priority should be placed on zones into all LRMPs (Fig. 1; see e.g. Wildland Fire Use for Resource Benefit (WFU) when conditions DellaSala et al. 2004). allow. The “Community Fire Planning Zone” • The development of such landscape-scale fire management classifi- (CFPZ) exists immediately adjacent to cations requires creation of a map that clearly demarcates the three communities and is managed for their zones using a combination of readily available national and protection. statewide GIS spatial data and local expertise. The “Wildfire Resilience Zone” (WRZ) occurs beyond the CFPZ for PAGE 3 some distance (a few miles) and is man- The Community Fire aged to minimize unplanned fire Planning Zone (CFPZ) (through suppression or containment) The highest priority of fire but also to restore conditions that are management must be the pro- ecologically resilient to inevitable fires. tection of people and their Beyond those zones, the full range of homes, and LRMPs must be management responses to fire (from sup- structured to support this goal. pression to allowing natural fire) is possi- Thus, the first step in designing ble, but a priority is placed on Wildland a plan that addresses fire is to Fire Use for Resource Benefit (WFU). identify the “Community Fire This area is called the “Fire Use Empha- Planning Zone,” the area sis Zone” (FUEZ) to reflect the prefer- around communities that ence for WFU when conditions allow. should be managed to protect By developing LRMPs with fire in homes and structures from mind, LRMPs can serve as practical tem- wildland fire. This zone is plates for subsequently developed Fire sometimes called the “wild- Management Plans (FMPs). FMPs are land-urban interface,” but planning documents required by policy Community Fire Planning for all federal lands with burnable vegeta- Zone (CFPZ) better conveys tion (USDA Forest Service et al. 2001). the overriding objective of They provide the strategic foundation for community protection. The all fire-related management activities on CFPZ is that area in and WWW.WILDLANDFIRE.COM a given land management unit before, around communities that during, and after a wildland fire. FMPs should be examined for oppor- are developed to aid implementation of tunities to improve public safe- the LRMP and must be consistent with ty through infrastructure all land designations made in the LRMP. improvement and fuel treat- These three planning zones can ment to protect homes. It will The CFPZ is managed to make improve management of public lands by not be necessary to treat fuels every- suppression operations safer focusing resources where they are most where within that zone, but quantifying and more effective. needed and helping to restore natural the extent of the area where communi- processes to those lands that can benefit ties are at risk from wildland fire can from the restoration of natural fire help focus community protection efforts. regimes. It has been demonstrated that the most effective way to protect homes is to FIGURE 1. L andscape Fi r e P l a n n i n g Z o n e s Community Fire Planning Zone (CFPZ) exists immediately adjacent to communities and is managed for their protection. Wildfire Resilience Zone (WRZ) C om m uni t i e s occurs beyond the CFPZ for some distance (a few miles) and is managed for resilience to unplanned fire. Fire Use Emphasis Zone (FUEZ) exists beyond the other zones, where a full range of management responses to fire is possible but a priority is placed on Wildland Fire Use. A THREE-ZONE, LANDSCAPE-SCALE FIRE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY PAGE 4 In 2003, The Wilderness Society released a report, The Wildland Fire Chal- lenge (Aplet and Wilmer 2003), which suggested that a maximum buffer dis- tance of a half mile is generally sufficient to provide the latitude to adjust commu- nity fire planning zones to terrain, taking advantage of natural fuel breaks such as cliffs and rock outcrops. While there may occasionally be situations that require extension of the CFPZ to greater dis- tances, we encourage the federal agencies generally to employ a CFPZ up to one- half mile beyond communities (Wilmer and Aplet 2005). If there are situations where extend- ing the width of the CFPZ helps improve community safety, it may fairly be asked, “Why limit the width of the CFPZ at all?” The answer is that man- A narrow “home ignitability build them out of fire-resistant materials agement for community protection may zone” determines whether a and aggressively reduce nearby fuels. The compromise other resource objectives. home will burn. simple principle behind this notion is Treating fuels to protect homes may that homes will not burn if they do not result in unnatural forest conditions ignite, regardless of what happens to the that diminish wildlife habitat, water surrounding forest, and research by the quality, and aesthetics. It is therefore U.S. Forest Service has shown that a important to limit the CFPZ to the area very narrow “home ignitability zone” of where it will do the most good to pro- approximately 60 meters determines tect homes. Narrowing the width of the whether a home will burn. By clearing CFPZ also helps to focus limited highly flammable fuels near homes, thin- resources (money, personnel) where ning small diameter trees within 60 they will have the greatest impact. meters of homes, and building with non- It is important to emphasize here that flammable materials, especially roofs, fire this logic does not argue for clearing a risk to homes can be dramatically half-mile buffer around every communi- reduced (Cohen and Butler 1998, Cohen ty. Rather, the CFPZ is the area within 2000). which to look for opportunities to treat Beyond the 60-meter home ignitability fuels to protect homes. Not every type of zone, communities may wish to thin vegetation will need to be treated, and trees to create “defensible space” within there are some vegetation types, such as which firefighters may work safely, to chaparral and subalpine forest, within reduce the probability of crown fire and which thinning will be only marginally to protect scenic views or watershed effective at lowering the probability of quality. Nowicki (2002) applied rules of crown fire. However, treatment near thumb developed by fire physicists and homes (and the use of fire-resistant fire safety personnel to conclude that building materials) can be very effective community protection zones of 400 at increasing the chance that a home meters could provide an area that would will survive the inevitable crown fire. allow firefighters to work safely to pro- Efforts to map the wildland-urban tect structures. interface or CFPZ have shown that PAGE 5 community protection is predominantly Reducing heat output may keep homes a private land challenge, but where the from igniting and give firefighters the CFPZ overlaps with federal land, there space they need to protect structures. is an important role for the federal Fortunately, many of these precautions agencies (Wilmer and Aplet 2005). have been formalized for public educa- Management within the CFPZ consists tion through programs such as FIRE- of actions that minimize the threat of WISE (see www.firewise.org). fire to homes. Obviously, paramount Historian Stephen Pyne (2003) has among those actions is aggressive sup- called structure loss in the CFPZ “a pression when fires start. The CFPZ is a dumb problem to have” because it is pre- place where, ideally, fire is excluded. ventable. Within the CFPZ, we know This task is enhanced by sufficient sup- what must be done to minimize fire risk; pression infrastructure, such as hydrants we simply need the will and the means and access roads, as well as suppression to do it. Pyne imagines a future in which forces ready to attack at a moment’s people are “active agents in shaping the notice. It is also enhanced by fuel treat- fire regime of their surroundings, not ments, such as mowing and pruning, to simply passive victims and whining liti- minimize fine fuels that contribute to gants.” rapid fire spread. Becoming an “active agent” can be But absolute fire exclusion is, unfortu- achieved in two ways. First, homeowners nately, wishful thinking. We will never must manage their property to minimize be able to keep fire out of the CFPZ risks to their homes and their neighbors. completely. Accordingly, precautions Second, community members, including must be taken so that, when fire does the federal agencies, must work together eventually burn, it poses a minimal risk across ownerships to develop plans that to homes. Such precautions include meet community fire protection needs. reducing tree density (thinning) near The Community Wildfire Protection homes to reduce heat output during fires. Plan (CWPP) process, established in the Where communities intermix with wildland fuels, community members must work together to devise a plan that achieves common goals for the CFPZ. A THREE-ZONE, LANDSCAPE-SCALE FIRE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY PAGE 6 Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, forests, and research natural areas, and provides an excellent opportunity for cit- the maintenance of forest composition izens and agency managers to work and structure that is ecologically resilient together to achieve common goals for when the inevitable fire occurs. General- the CFPZ. CWPPs are to be developed ly, this means modifying fuels to protect by multiple stakeholders to identify and specific resources and restoring ecosys- prioritize areas for hazardous fuel reduc- tems, based on an understanding of the tion and to recommend measures to historical range of variability (HRV) reduce structural ignitions. Because (Landres et al. 1999). According to HRV CWPPs must be considered in the evalu- theory, an ecosystem that burns with his- ation of federal fuel reduction projects, torically characteristic intensity should federal agencies should be part of every be resilient to fire and able to recover its CWPP process involving communities prefire composition, structure, and func- whose CFPZ overlaps with federal land. tion over time. Managing for resilience Where these processes have not already can be accomplished under a variety of begun, we encourage federal agencies to management prescriptions for different pull stakeholders together to develop land uses, from commodity production to these plans. roaded recreation to roadless areas to Various resources exist to help facili- passive or active restoration. tate this engagement, including “A While some may argue that the WRZ Handbook for Wildland-Urban Interface should be as broad as possible to facili- Communities: Preparing a Community tate resilience across the maximum Wildfire Protection Plan,” developed by extent of the landscape, there are many the Society of American Foresters, the practical reasons to constrain the WRZ. National Association of State Foresters, First, the larger the WRZ, the more land the National Association of Counties, must be managed under an obligatory and the Communities Committee of the suppression response, which has proven Seventh American Forest Congress.1 to be more difficult and expensive over The “Leaders’ Guide for Developing a time (USDI, BLM et al. 2005). Con- CWPP” by the International Association straining the WRZ allows suppression of Fire Chiefs, the National Association forces to focus on a smaller portion of of State Foresters, and The Wilderness the landscape where they can be most Society is also an excellent resource.2 effective. Second, as is the case in the CFPZ, fuel treatment incurs environ- The Wildfire Resilience Zone mental impacts, such as increased soil The Wildfire Resilience Zone (WRZ) erosion, that must be balanced against extends beyond the CFPZ to a distance hazard reduction benefits. Third, fuel where it is safe to consider additional treatment is expensive and simply can- management responses to fire as alterna- not be done everywhere. Generally, the tives to aggressive initial attack. Within value of the material removed through the WRZ, suppression will be the fuel treatment is less than the cost of response to unplanned ignitions, but fire treatment, so for the foreseeable future, may also be introduced intentionally to fuel treatment, on federal land anyway, achieve management objectives. There, will need to be supported through tax- the primary management objectives are payer investments. Sound fiscal manage- the protection of critical resource values, ment requires that those investments be such as recreation sites, experimental constrained. 1 http://www.safnet.org/policyandpress/cwpphandbook.pdf 2 http://www.iafc.org/Grants/documents/CWPP_rev062005.pdf PAGE 7 PHOTO BY GREG APLET Fuel treatment on the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon. Small-diameter trees were thinned to restore a fire-resilient forest structure. Fine fuels created by the thinning operation will be subsequently burned to reduce fire hazard. Finally, to be effective, fuel treatment experimental forests, management should must be focused on the places where it is adhere to principles of ecological restora- needed most. Throughout the West, the tion. One such set of principles can be landscapes that are most in need of eco- found in the article “A Citizen’s Call for logical restoration are those immediately Ecological Restoration: Forest Restoration adjacent to communities, often at the Principles and Criteria” by DellaSala et base of adjacent mountain ranges. These al., published in Ecological Restoration in dry, low-elevation forests of ponderosa 2003. This article contains a number of pine, Douglas-fir, and various oaks have sound ideas that should be applied to been the most altered by fire exclusion, restoration planning. At the center of the and are the most in need of thinning to document are three “core principles” restore a fire-tolerant forest structure. upon which a good restoration plan Constraining the WRZ to the area with- should be based: in a few miles of communities will help 1. Ecological Forest Restoration Core assure that these areas receive the Principle: Enhance ecological restoration attention they need. integrity by restoring natural Management within the WRZ may be processes and resiliency. aimed at a number of objectives, includ- 2. Ecological Economics Core Princi- ing commodity production, visual ple: Develop and employ economic resource management, recreation, and incentives that protect or restore scientific study, but except in specific ecological integrity. locations, such as campgrounds and 3. Communities and Work Force A THREE-ZONE, LANDSCAPE-SCALE FIRE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY PAGE 8 Core Principle: Make use of or ble. WFU — managing naturally burning train a highly skilled, well-com- fires in designated, remote sections of the pensated work force to conduct landscape — is widely accepted by scien- restoration. tists and policymakers as an important A LRMP is a solid restoration plan if it tool for helping to restore forest health restores processes, such as vegetation and mitigating the escalating costs of fire development or characteristic hydrology suppression. However, in practice, WFU and fire, not just forest structure, if it is is rarely implemented because it is viewed based on an economics that recognizes by fire managers as too risky (Parsons ecological costs and benefits, not just 2000). The only way that the benefits of market values, and if it contributes to the WFU can be realized over substantial long-term viability of communities with a areas is to allow natural fires to burn culture of environmental sustainability. wherever safe. Designating a FUEZ — the The Citizens’ Forest Restoration Prin- area determined through rigorous analysis ciples (DellaSala et al. 2003) offers a to be far enough away from communities useful framework for forest restoration that fire will not threaten structures or that, if incorporated into a broadly other highly valued resources — should inclusive, collaborative planning increase managers’ confidence to opt for process, can yield a comprehensive WFU in the event of a natural ignition. restoration plan. A simpler but also In order to implement WFU, federal helpful set of guidelines is offered by policy requires the existence of a Fire Brown and Aplet (2000) in their paper Management Plan (FMP); without an “Restoring Forests and Reducing Fire FMP, all unplanned ignitions must be Danger in the Intermountain West with suppressed. Even with a plan in place Thinning and Fire.” They offer several that authorizes the use of fire in a given goals for restoration planning that can area, however, weather conditions, per- be summarized as follows: sonnel availability, and other variables 1. Focus on water and watersheds; must be considered before a manager can 2. Account for rare ecosystem make a definitive decision to use wild- elements; land fire to improve ecosystem condi- 3. Protect riparian areas; tion. Once the initial decision is made, 4. Focus on low elevations; fire managers must constantly monitor 5. Thin the smallest trees; and re-assess conditions to see if the fire 6. Treat fine fuels with prescribed fire; begins to move out of prescription, at 7. Avoid disturbing soils; and which point suppression will be ordered. 8. Avoid creating new roads and Identifying the specific conditions protect roadless areas. under which WFU might be appropriate These simple principles can form the requires detailed scientific and spatial basis of a sound program for the Wildfire analyses. Even in remote areas, such as Resilience Zone and should be employed the FUEZ, forest conditions, weather and in the development of a LRMP. wind factors may preclude the safe use of fire. WFU is only appropriate where the The Fire Use Emphasis Zone results of fire are likely to produce In the Fire Use Emphasis Zone (FUEZ), resource benefits. Generally, this requires the full suite of management responses to a determination that fire behavior will be fire (including suppression and contain- natural or historically typical for the loca- ment) may be appropriate under any tion. To provide a sufficient basis for fire given condition, but the intent is to max- management, a LRMP would not need to imize opportunities for Wildland Fire Use include these detailed analyses, but the for Resource Benefit (WFU) where possi- plan must provide sufficient latitude to PAGE 9 allow fire planners to identify the appro- should be used throughout the FUEZ priate places for WFU in the subsequent when suppression is the appropriate FMP. Such latitude can be provided by management response. making the FUEZ as big as possible. Management prescriptions appropriate Mapping the Fire Landscape for the FUEZ range from wilderness and Developing a LRMP that supports protection of roadless character in the landscape-scale fire management requires roadless landscape to active restoration the creation of a three-zone map repre- and protection of recreation sites in the senting the Community Fire Planning roaded portion. Throughout this land- Zone, the Wildfire Resilience Zone, and scape, prescribed fire may be used to the Fire Use Emphasis Zone. Creating achieve a composition and structure that such a map is a relatively simple matter can accommodate natural fire. This is that relies on a very few readily available especially true for the roaded portion of spatial data sets: the landscape, where existing roads can 1. U.S. Census 2000 data at the be used (possibly after thinning of adja- block level, representing the num- cent fuels) to systematically reintroduce ber of houses in each block. fire to the landscape. 2. High-resolution land ownership In the roadless landscape, including data. wilderness, a higher burden of proof must 3. Federal land administrative data be met prior to manipulation, including showing the locations of wilder- the use of prescribed fire. The Wilderness ness, roadless areas, research natur- Act specifically requires meeting that al areas, campgrounds, etc. burden through a Minimum Require- 4. High-resolution vegetation cover ments Analysis, but the special values of data, representing non-wildland roadless areas also demand that a high cover types and wildland vegeta- standard be met. As with suppression tion types. action, the Wilderness Act does not To develop a map of the CFPZ, we specifically prevent fuel management in recommend identifying communities wilderness, but actions proposed for any denser than one house per forty acres part of the roadless landscape must be (the minimum density of a wildland- carefully planned using excellent science urban interface community, according and an inclusive public process. Because to the January 4, 2001 Federal Register remote areas tend to be in higher-eleva- notice3) based on housing density calcu- tion, cooler vegetation types, less of the lated from modified Census 2000 FUEZ is likely to be in low-severity-fire blocks. Census blocks can be modified forest types that may require thinning or by subtracting public land and recalcu- prescribed fire before natural fire will lating housing density based on the area yield resource benefits. The vast majority of non-public land. Next, communities will be in less-frequent fire regimes that can be buffered by a half-mile to will likely benefit from natural fire. approximate the CFPZ (see discussion Fire management in the FUEZ should above). The buffered communities can seek to maintain the natural character of be further refined by removing non- the area, even in the roaded portion, and wildland cover types (water, barren, minimize impacts to aquatic, terrestrial, rock, agriculture, and urban land) from or watershed resources. Accordingly, the buffered communities based on Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics cover classes from the National Land 3 “Urban wildland interface communities within the vicinity of Federal lands that are at high risk from wildfire” (Federal Register 66(3): 751-777, January 4, 2001). A THREE-ZONE, LANDSCAPE-SCALE FIRE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY PAGE 10 Example: Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests The following map displays the Community Fire Plan- landscape; the WRZ makes up about 29 percent, about a ning Zone in the vicinity of the Clearwater and Nez Perce third of which is wilderness and roadless land, and the National Forests in Idaho, its overlap with the Forests, the remaining 69 percent of the Forest is FUEZ. Seventy-nine Wildfire Resilience Zone within five miles of the CFPZ, percent of the FUEZ consists of wilderness and roadless and the Fire Use Emphasis Zone beyond the WRZ. On areas, providing ample opportunity to apply Wildland these Forests, the CFPZ amounts to only 3 percent of the Fire Use. Landscape-Scale Fire Management on the Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests Community Fire Wildfire Resilience Zone Fire Use Emphasis Zone Planning Zone PAGE 11 PHOTO BY BRYAN DAY Prescribed fires, such as this one in Idaho’s Upper Snake River District, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, can be used to manage fuels and restore ecosystems in both the WRZ and the FUEZ. Naturally ignited fires can be managed for their resource benefits in the FUEZ. Cover Dataset or the best available through a combination of GIS tech- locally derived cover data (http://land- niques and local expertise. cover.usgs. gov/natllandcover. asp). In general, the WRZ need not extend Removal of these non-flammable cover beyond about five miles from the CFPZ. types from the CFPZ helps keep fire While there will be cases where restora- protection planning focused on the por- tion is desirable beyond this distance, the tion of the landscape where treatment majority of restoration opportunities will opportunities are greatest. The final be found at the lowest elevations, in dry map of the CFPZ represents natural veg- forests near communities. By establishing a etation within one-half- mile of com- five-mile-wide WRZ, restoration planning munities. The portion occurring on fed- can be focused on the “frontcountry,” eral land should be identified in the where the need is clear and where there is plan for treatment according to plans less controversy over the use of thinning. developed collaboratively between com- With time, restoration efforts may be munities and the federal agencies. extended beyond the WRZ but these cases Because this mapping method utilizes are a lower priority for the foreseeable large national and statewide datasets, future (i.e., the life of the plan). errors are bound to occur at local scales Within a five-mile WRZ, a fair amount of application. One such error is the of the area can be expected to be wilder- identification of unoccupied private ness and inventoried roadless area. While parcels as communities when those pri- restoration treatment in wilderness is not vate parcels are within a census block prohibited by the Wilderness Act, the that meets the density threshold for need for any proposed manipulation of selection as a “community.” Because of wilderness carries a high burden of proof, the potential for errors, we highly rec- which must be detailed in a Minimum ommend that the CFPZ be generated Requirements Analysis. Such a burden of A THREE-ZONE, LANDSCAPE-SCALE FIRE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY PAGE 12 proof should, with rare exception, make ecosystems, such as low-elevation pon- wilderness a low-priority candidate for derosa pine forests, as the highest priori- treatment. Similarly, the Roadless Area ty places to assess project-specific Conservation Rule4 and the “Bosworth restoration potential on a case-by-case letter”5 place a high standard on entry of basis. roadless areas. Both the Scientific Find- While WFU is often confined to ings of the Interior Columbia Basin wilderness, there is no reason why fire Ecosystem Management Project6 and the cannot be used outside wilderness as well, EIS for the Roadless Rule7 note that wherever safe. Thus, the FUEZ may be roadless areas are among the least ecolog- mapped as everywhere beyond the WRZ, ically altered parts of the landscape. i.e., everywhere that is more than, for Thus, roadless areas should also be lower instance, five miles from the Community priority candidates for restoration. Fire Planning Zone. Within this area, While wilderness and roadless areas wilderness, roadless areas, and remote should be mapped as low priority, some roaded land provide excellent opportuni- vegetation types seem to be good candi- ties to plan for fire use. The extent of the dates for restoration. Forest types that FUEZ will vary regionally, depending on historically experienced frequent fire the degree of regional development. In have been identified in the scientific and some places, it may be virtually non-exis- management literature as the highest pri- tent, while in others, it may dominate. ority for fuel treatment. The Cohesive In some cases, fire plans may be in Strategy (Laverty and Williams 2000) place at scales broader than the LRMP. sets a national programmatic goal to For example, the Bureau of Land Man- “[c]oncentrate projects in the shorter agement has been developing statewide interval fire-adapted ecosystems” such as FMPs to provide the context for land ponderosa pine forests that historically management planning. In such cases, we experienced frequent fire. Within these believe that the three-zone approach still forests, stands of old-growth ponderosa provides a workable way to implement pine with an understory of dense saplings fire management goals identified at the have especially high restoration potential. broader scale. We expect that, in mapping priority areas for restoration, agency managers Conclusion will feel under considerable pressure to The preceding sections of this report utilize existing methods for discriminat- present a framework for wildland fire ing Fire Regime Condition Class management, identify sources of data, (FRCC) (Schmidt et al. 2002). We and provide methods for allocating land highly recommend against this course of to three fire management priorities. We action. Initial criticisms of FRCC meth- believe that LRMPs will be better fire ods are discussed by Aplet and Wilmer management documents if wildland fire (2003), and we believe FRCC methods is considered early in plan development, will not stand up to future scientific and we encourage federal agencies to scrutiny. Rather than relying on these apply this framework as they revise their flawed methods, we suggest that agen- plans to achieve fire-safe communities cies map short-interval, fire-adapted and healthy, fire-resilient ecosystems. 4 http://roadless.fs.fed.us/documents/rule/rule_fedreg.html 5 http://roadless.fs.fed.us/documents/1230_Roadless_Ltr.htm 6 http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/publications/icbemp.shtml 7 http://roadless.fs.fed.us/documents/feis/ PAGE 13 References Aplet, G. H. and B. Wilmer. 2003. The wildland fire challenge: focus on reliable data, community protection, and ecological restoration. The Wilderness Society, Washington, DC. Available at <http://www.wilderness.org/Library/Documents/ WildlandFireChallenge.cfm> (accessed August 2006) Brown, R. and G. H. Aplet. 2000. Restoring forests and reducing fire danger in the Intermountain West with thinning and fire. The Wilderness Society, Washington, DC. Available at <http://www.wilderness.org/Library/Documents/upload/ Restoring-Forests-Reducing-Fire-Danger.pdf> (accessed August 2006) DellaSala, D. A., Martin, A., Spivak, R., Schulke, T., Bird, B., Criley, M., van Daalen, C., Kreilick, J., Brown, R., and G. Aplet. 2003. A citizen’s call for ecological forest restoration: forest restoration principles and criteria. Ecological Restoration 21:14- 23. Available at <https://library.eri.nau.edu:8443/bitstream/2019/86/4/DellaSala EcoRest2003.pdf> (accessed August 2006) DellaSala, D. A., Williams, J. E., Williams, C. P., and J. F. Franklin. 2004. Beyond smoke and mirrors: a synthesis of fire policy and science. Conservation Biology 18: 976-986. Cohen, J.D. 2000. Preventing disaster: home ignitability in the wildland-urban interface. Journal of Forestry 98(3): 15-21. Available at <http://www.nps.gov/fire/ download/pub_pub_preventingdisaster.pdf> (accessed August 2006) Cohen, J.D., and B.W. Butler. 1998. 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Available at <http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/ programs/fire/wui1.pdf> (accessed August 2006) Parsons, D.J. 2000. The challenge of restoring natural fire to wilderness. Pages 276-282 in Cole, D., S. F. McCool, W. T. Borrie, and J. O’Loughlin, comps. Wilderness Science in a Time of Change Conference — Volume 5: Wilderness Ecosystems, Threats, and Management; May 23-27, 1999, Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRSP- 15-VOL-5. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station Ogden, UT. A THREE-ZONE, LANDSCAPE-SCALE FIRE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY PAGE 14 Pyne, S. J. 2003. Smokechasing. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ. Schmidt, K. M., Menakis, J. P., Hardy, C.C., Hann, W. J., and D. L. Bunnell. 2002. Development of coarse scale spatial data for wildland fire and fuel management. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-87. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO. Available at <http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/fuelman/> (accessed August 2006) USDA Forest Service, DOI, DOE (Department of Energy), DOD (Department of Defense), DOC (Department of Commerce), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), and NASF (National Association of State Foresters). 2001. Review and update of the 1995 Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy. Washington, DC. Available at <http://www.nifc.gov/fire_policy/history/index.htm> (accessed August 2006) USDI Bureau of Land Management, USDI BIA, USDA Forest Service, USDI NIS, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, and NASF. 2005. Quadrennial Fire and Fuel Review Report. Available at <http://www.nafri.gov/Assets/QFFR_Final_Report_ July_19_2005.pdf> (accessed August 2006) Wilmer, B. and G. Aplet. 2005. Targeting the community fire planning zone: mapping matters. The Wilderness Society, Washington, DC. Available at <http://www.wilderness.org/Library/Documents/TargetingCFPZreport.cfm> (accessed August 2006) PAGE 15 This Science & Policy Brief is part of a series of publications on fire manage- ment topics published by The Wilderness Society’s Ecology and Economics Research Department. Reports in the series that focus on issues relevant to this brief include: - The Wildland Fire Challenge: Focus on Reliable Data, Community Protection and Ecological Restoration - The Federal Wildland Fire Budget: Let’s Prepare, Not Just React - Following the Money: National Fire Plan Funding and Implementation - Targeting the Community Fire Planning Zone: Mapping Matters These reports and related Science & Policy Briefs are available on The Wilder- ness Society’s web site <www.wilderness.org> and from The Wilderness Society, Communications Department, 1615 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (202- 833-2300 or 1-800-THE-WILD). Printed on recycled paper using soy inks. THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY For more information, contact: 1615 M Street, NW Greg Aplet, 1660 Wynkoop Street, Suite 850, Denver, CO 80202 Washington, DC 20036 Phone: 303-650-5818 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 833-2300 Bo Wilmer, 350 N 9th Street, Suite 302, Boise, ID 83702 www.wilderness.org Phone: 208-343-8153 • Email: email@example.com