Wildland fire management in the National Park Service (NPS) is dedicated to safety, science, and resource stewardship. A safe and successful fire management program has many elements that must all work together.
Fire and Resource Management
Fire is an essential part of the ecosystem and is an important natural disturbance that is vital for healthy ecosystems. Rather than put out every fire, the park plans carefully to use it as a tool. The goal: to take advantage of fire's benefits while minimizing risks to people, property, and the health of the forest.
Prescribed fire is a management ignited fire during specified fuel and weather conditions, with a signed burn plan to pre-determined boundaries. It is used for hazard fuel reduction and/or ecosystem restoration. Prescribed burns have specific goals and objectives. Fire managers within the Complex have been prescribed fire since 1991 and will continue to do so where appropriate.
Tree thinning, combined with prescribed fire implementation, continues to help the forested area around the community be more resilient to wildfire. These underburns are included in the Stehekin Valley Forest Fuel Reduction Plan which the fire staff has been implementing in stages since September 1995.
A multi-year native vegetation restoration approach and Wildland Urban Interface fuels reduction emphasis is used at Lake Roosevelt. Mechanical treatment and prescribed fire is used to achieve native plant restoration and forest health objectives, provide for public safety, and enhance defensible space adjacent to park infrastructure and private property.
Helicopters are sometimes the fastest and most effective way to get vital cargo into remote areas of the park for emergency fire management operations.
Over the years, National Park Service fire managers have developed and used effective tactics, technology, and policy to enhance public and firefighter safety, and preserve natural and cultural landscapes. Our history of managing fire spans nearly one and a half centuries.
Last updated: August 26, 2023