Forest plan would allow bigger role for fire

Forest plan would allow bigger role for fire

22 May 2011

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USA — The Gallatin National Forest is proposing a revision to its wildfire plan that would allow managers more latitude in using fire to play “its natural ecological role on the landscape.”

The plan would amend the Gallatin National Forest’s 1987 forest plan and would not dictate how and when fires would be allowed to burn in the forest.

But it would offer managers a new option when it comes to deciding how to manage fires.

As it stands, the forest plan calls for managers to control, confine and contain wildland fires outside of wilderness areas. The current plan, according to the environmental assessment released earlier this month, “may be restricting the role of natural wildland fire on the landscape.”

“There are limited opportunities to implement various fire management strategies and tactical options that would allow for fire’s natural role in the environment, as well as managing wildland fire, to achieve other Forest Plan resource management goals and objectives,” the environmental assessment says.

While public safety would remain the top priority when considering how to deal with a fire, forest managers hope that allowing some fires to run their natural course would help reduce the intensity and severity of wildland fires over the long term.

It would also reduce to the cost of fighting fires, the forest says.

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