The Intermountain Region (IMR) of the National Park Service (NPS) is the largest region within the service. It includes eight states that stretch from the Mexican to the Canadian border and encompasses most of the Rocky Mountain area. The region includes 91 NPS units that are visited by over 42 million people annually.
Regional focus is on park support as well as interpretation and development of wildland fire policy.
The Wildland Fire and Aviation Division falls under the Visitor and Resource Protection Branch of the region. They oversee 78 park units that have fire programs and thus require fire management plans. Of these units, 15 receive regular and recurring fire staffing funding. All other NPS units within the region are provided wildland fire expertise from one of the regularly funded parks as an area park concept. The IMR averages 300+ wildfires per year that typically burns over 40,000 acres. The region also has five interagency wildland fire coordination groups that include the Southwest, Southern, Rocky Mountain, Great Basin, and Northern Rockies Geographic Areas
The regions fuel management program focuses upon reducing the negative impact of wildland fires on people, communities and natural and cultural resources. Heavy fuels accumulation and the altered composition and structure of vegetation, combined with sustained drought/climate change, contribute to increased fire intensity, spread, and resistance to control. The management of these fires is further compounded by the growth of communities adjacent to public lands, putting homes and other structures closer to areas where large wildland fires occur and increasing the risks. Fuels management activities in 2010 included the accomplishment of 217 projects that treated 27,340 acres. This compares favorably with the five year average of 29,500 acres treated.
IMR hosts a diverse blend of fire management resources and personnel, as well as national shared resources including aircraft, engines, modules, and hand crews. Depending on location, the fire season begins as early as January and continues into the late fall.
Primary regional focus is on park support as well as interpretation and development of wildland fire policy. Still, significant challenges remain in dealing with management of unplanned fires in altered fire regimes and populated areas, exotic invasive plants, climate change, air quality and smoke management.