Fire is an inevitable and essential part of most forest ecosystems in Rocky, making the management of wildland fire a top priority. Wildland Fire Management is part of the Resource Stewardship division at Rocky, the divison that provides scientific guidance to the park on matters relating to natural and cultural resources.
Wildland Fire Management Goals
Reduce risk for the safety of employees and the public
Reduce risk for communities, infrastructure, natural and cultural resources
Restore and maintain fire-adapted ecosystems
Wildland Fire Management Program Elements
Two main program elements help the Wildland Fire Management team achieve their goals: a comprehensive fuels program and response to wildland fire.
Fire managers have developed a plan for fuels-reduction treatments across the park. Fuels are any flammable materials, including trees, shrubs, dead and downed vegetation, and grasses. Reducing the volume and changing the arrangement of fuels can help give firefighters a safer place to fight a fire, create a buffer zone to keep fires within park boundaries, establish evacuation routes, and decrease the duration of a wildfire. Examples of fuels treatments include prescribed burns of surface fuels and thinning of forest vegetation to reduce fuel loading.
In collaboration with other agencies, including the Alpine Hotshots, the Wildland Fire Management team is prepared to respond to wildland fires, taking safe and appropriate action to meet their goals. Because fire has beneficial effects on the natural landscape, the goal may not be to extinguish the fire. Naturally ignited fires that are not threatening people, homes, or valuable natural or cultural resources may be allowed to burn, a strategy called wildland fire use, to fulfill planned objectives for restoring and maintaining fire-adapted ecosystems.