Prescribed Fire Policy

Three firefighters in forest

This research investigates policies that limit managers’ ability to conduct prescribed fire on US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in the 11 Western states.

Our primary objectives are to:

  • Identify current perceived policy barriers to implementing prescribed fire and how these vary across the West
  • Characterize actionable opportunities and mechanisms for overcoming barriers

Ultimately, our aim is to identify which policies present the greatest priorities and opportunities for change, and what the mechanisms are for realizing those opportunities. This project is being conducted through a partnership between the Ecosystem Workforce Program and Dr. Courtney Schultz, Director of the Public Lands Policy Group at Colorado State University.


Working Papers

#86: Prescribed Fire Policy Barriers and Opportunities: A Diversity of Challenges Across the West. This first report covers findings from interviews with state and federal agencies, prescribed fire councils, and others involved in prescribed fire work on national forest or BLM land.

Legal Appendix to Working Paper #86: This appendix provides additional detail from our legal research on air quality law and policy. It includes an overview of the federal Clean Air Act, followed by details for each of the 11 western states in our study. 

#99: Strategies for Increasing Prescribed Fire Application on Federal Lands: Lessons from Case Studies in the U.S. West. This report covers findings from case studies with land management units that are actively working to increase the application of prescribed fire on federal lands. 

Appendices to Working Paper #99: Case Study Details. These appendices provide additional details on each of the four case studies involved in the research individually. 

Briefing Papers

Policy Barriers to Implementing Prescribed Fire, CSU Public Lands Policy Group Briefing Paper 1

Journal Articles

Schultz Courtney A., McCaffrey Sarah M., Huber-Stearns Heidi R. (2019) Policy barriers and opportunities for prescribed fire application in the western United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire 28, 874-884.

Collaborations and capacities to transform fire management by Courtney A. Schultz, Cassandra Moseley. Science 04 Oct 2019 : 38-40,