U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Https

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Fire and Forestry Stories

2022

Wayne Waquiu, BAER Team Forester, discusses the impacts of the Cerro Pelado fire on the Tribe's timber resource with Pueblo of Jemez' natural resources staff members.
Date Published:
Author: Lessa Peter

The Cerro Pelado fire ignited on April 22, 2022, approximately seven miles east of Jemez Springs and moved east, north, and south affecting Valles Caldera lands on the north and Pueblo lands to the east and south in addition to USFS lands in New Mexico. The fire burned 45,605 acres, impacting multiple jurisdictions including private lands and lands managed by U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. The fire moved through Tribal… Continue reading this Fire Story

Timber Team working timber trespass area outside Okemah, OK, 2021.
Date Published:
Author: Lessa Peter

From March 2021 through January 2022, DFWFM’s Timber Strike Team traveled to nine states to assist 17 tribal agencies with timber sales and continuous forest inventory (CFI) projects. Their accomplishments include the creation of land cover files classifying 592,000 acres of forest stands for 14 Eastern Oklahoma tribes and cover-type mapping of 88,000 acres on Annette Island for the Metlakatla tribe of Alaska. Cover-type mapping surveys the current state of land… Continue reading this Fire Story

2019 Fort Apache fuels employees create a fuel break on
Date Published:
Author: Lessa Peter

Beginning September 2022, the BIA’s Western Region will be  participating in the implementation of fuels treatments on the Santa Catalina Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest (CNF) over a three-year period. The project, titled the Catalina-Rincon Restoration and Fuels Mitigation project, will be funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Joint Chief’s Landscape Restoration Project Award. The $3.7M award will mitigate wildfire risk… Continue reading this Fire Story

2019

2019 San Carlos Incident Command Post where the finance group worked. Photo by: Amanda Boatright, BIA
Date Published:
Author: Amanda Boatright, Robyn Broyles

For San Carlos Agency, this was a fire year that just wouldn’t end. Fire activity not only required extensive operations and logistical coordination to respond to the wildfires, it also demanded a well-organized and highly functioning finance section to accurately track costs.

The high fire occurrence resulted in the establishment of an ad hoc BIA finance section capable of tracking and accounting for the costs attributed to all severity resources that… Continue reading this Fire Story

Invasive conifers burn during the Moss Rang Wildfire, which was managed to remove grass, brush and conifers encroaching into winter habitat. Photo: CSKT
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

On July 23, 2019, lightning sparked the Moss Ranch Fire on the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) trust lands. Striking midway up a remote slope in a steep, rocky, portion of the Flathead River corridor, the wildfire grew faster in the cured grass and sagebrush than wildland firefighters could suppress it.  Adding to this were safety complications firefighters experienced—bees were swarming, stinging the faces and necks of multiple firefighters which… Continue reading this Fire Story

Firefighters from Fort Apache Agency remove invasive salt cedar brush from the Cocopah Reservation as part of the Southern Border Fuels Management Initiative, 2019. Image courtesy of the Cocopah Indian Tribe.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

Located along the Colorado River 13 miles south of Yuma, Arizona, and 15 miles north of San Luis, Mexico is the Cocopah Reservation. Its unique boundaries border Mexico, Arizona and California. Thriving along the banks is an invasive and dangerous plant called salt cedar. Its roots drink deeply, helping to lower the water table and adding large deposits of salt to the soil. As its roots and branches grow, its prolific and highly flammable branches threaten… Continue reading this Fire Story

Fort Apache Fuels Crew Receives the Prestigious Pulaski Award
Date Published:
Author: Wildland Fire Management

In June, the Governing Board at the National Interagency Fire Center selected the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Fort Apache Agency and the Coronado National Forest, Sierra Vista Ranger District to be recipients of the 2019 Pulaski Award. This marks the first time BIA has received this prestigious award.

The Pulaski Award recognizes groups demonstrating outstanding performance in the areas of interagency collaboration, cooperation and coordination;… Continue reading this Fire Story

Native Fire video picture
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

The Bureau of Indian Affairs wildland fire management programs work to protect lives, property and resources while restoring and maintaining healthy ecosystems. Produced in partnership with Injunuity the BIA is proud to release "Native Fire," a short educational video about native use of prescribed fire.

"Native Fire" discusses Native American's historic use of fire and addresses how traditional practices in the… Continue reading this Fire Story

Infrared image taken from UAS during a resource management mission. Photo: BIA
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

The use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has grown exponentially in recent years for all types of applications. BIA's use of UAS is no exception. 2018 was the first year BIA began using UAS for wildfire and resource management projects.  

This past year, the Branch invested $45,000 to launch its UAS program, purchasing eight small 3DR Solo quadcopters and carding six pilots throughout the Bureau. These systems can fly for 15-20 minutes and provide the… Continue reading this Fire Story

Kate Flanigan Sawyer M.D. practices wrapping a student’s arm during the 2019 MIL Train-the-Trainer Training in San Diego, CA. March 8, 2019. Photo: BIA
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

In December, 2018, the Department of the Interior (DOI) Medical Director, Office of Occupational Safety and Health, Kate Flanigan Sawyer, M.D. endorsed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Wildland Fire First Aid Program. In so doing, the Office of Wildland Fire is now looking at BIA’s First Aid Program as a template other wildland fire land management agencies can adopt and expand on for all field-going DOI programs.

The eight-hour Medical Incident… Continue reading this Fire Story

FLFW Module members from left to right: Lisa, Cheryl (Field Coordinator), Ashton, Jaisy, Yvette, Estella (Coordinator trainee), Stacey and Anne.  Photo by Cheryl Bright, BIA
Date Published:
Author: Cheryl Bright, Yvette Leecy and Ashton Lynch

January, 2019

For the first time ever, recognizing a need to encourage more women in Indian Country to participate in prescribed fire, the Bureau of Indian Affairs sponsored women to attend the Fire Leadership for Women (FLFW) program at the National Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Center (PFTC) in Tallahassee, Florida.

Of the eight women in the module, three were from Indian Country, one was from British Columbia,… Continue reading this Fire Story

Rachael Larson, 2019. Photo donated by Rachael Larson.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Branch of Wildland Fire Management is pleased to announce and welcome Rachael Larson to its team as the Branch Director for Budget and Planning.

Rachael comes to the Branch after serving seven years as Alaska Region’s Budget Officer. While serving the region, she was responsible formulating and executing budgets for the Region and the 228 tribes it serves. Through this experience, she participated in negotiations… Continue reading this Fire Story

Juliette Jeanne, BIA Deputy Director for Post Wildfire Recovery
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

The BIA, Branch of Wildland Fire Management has selected Juliette Jeanne to be the Deputy Director for BIA’s Post Wildfire Recovery Program, referred to as Burned Area Emergency Response or BAER.

The Deputy Director for Post Wildfire Recovery provides ground support to BIA Agencies and Tribes to address fire recovery needs.  In her new position, Juliette will assist the National BAER Director, Darryl Martinez, with evaluating and developing interagency… Continue reading this Fire Story

2018 Archive

Wendy Wells and Russell Felicia Shake Hands
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

Russell Felicia, a graduate of South Dakota State University, recently completed the BIA Office of Trust Services Pathways Internship Program for Wildland Firefighters.

Upon successfully completing the program, Russel began working with the BIA Rosebud Agency as a Rangeland Management Specialist. Wendy Wells, Russell’s new supervisor says of him, “From day one, he has shown strong work ethics, and a willingness to learn.  I couldn’t be happier to have him… Continue reading this Fire Story

Getting Your Message Out Class Photo
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles
Learning how to write key messages and using those messages in the right context and platform can be tricky. That is why the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma sponsored “Getting Your Message Out, Wildland Fire Prevention Key Message Training for Indian Country.”
 
During the three day training, 26 students from across Indian Country participated in training that taught students how to develop key messages for targeted audiences and how to use… Continue reading this Fire Story
Image from the Fuel Treatment Effectiveness Monitoring reporting system
Date Published:
Author: Bill Grauel

Many Tribes conduct frequent vegetation treatments in and around their communities as a means of protecting their homes, resources and other values from the damaging effects of wildfires. For scientists wishing to prove the effectiveness of these treatments, collecting documentation can be difficult. This is because ecologists can only evaluate treatments after a randomly occurring wildfire burns the treated area. New developments in the Department of the… Continue reading this Fire Story

Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission Logo
Date Published:
Author: Lucas Minton and Robyn Broyles

Nashville, Tennessee – On August 2, 2018, Fire Commissioners from each of the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission Compact (NFFPC) approved the Bureau of Indian Affairs request to allow tribes and agencies in Eastern Region to become members to NFFPC.

NFFPC’s works to provide information, technology and resource sharing (mutual aid) activities for its member states and provinces to help them better cope with fires that grow beyond… Continue reading this Fire Story

Oregon National Guard Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Photo by: ODF
Date Published:
Author: Adapted from Oregon Department of Forestry, Northeast Oregon District

On July 10, 2018 firefighters from the Oregon Department of Forestry-Northeast Oregon District and Bureau of Indian Affairs, Umatilla Agency, gathered near Meacham, Oregon for a unique training opportunity with the Oregon National Guard. 30 firefighters were on scene to participate in an interagency training session with Guard members using their Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter, a large helicopter used for transporting water during wildfire suppression… Continue reading this Fire Story

Peer Support Training at NIFC July 10, 2018
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

On July 10, all Branch of Wildland Fire Management staff attended a Stress Management and Resilience Training (SMART) in Boise, ID. The training was designed to give staff a deeper understanding into how to support regions and agencies with dealing with serious incidents while giving staff skills to manage stressful work environments.

The National Wildland Fire and Aviation Critical Incident Stress Management program, located in Boise, ID., presented the… Continue reading this Fire Story

Students attending basic wildland firefighting training discuss lessons from class. Photo: Lucas Minton, BIA Fire Management Officer, Eastern Region
Date Published:
Author: Lucas Minton and Robyn Broyles

During the week of June 23, regional fire management staff from Eastern and Midwestern regions completed a basic Wildland Firefighting Training school, (S-130,190, I-100, L-180) at the Passamaquoddy Tribal Government- Indian Township in Maine.

This was a collaborative effort with students and instructors from the Indian Township Fire & Rescue, Passamaquoddy Forestry Department, National Park Service Fire and Aviation Management in Acadia, and the… Continue reading this Fire Story

Grant Hopkins, Office of Trust Services Pathways Internship Program Graduate
Date Published:
Author: Craig Cook and Robyn Broyles

In the spring of 2018, BIA began advertising student internship positions to work in the BIA, Office of Trust Services Pathways Internship Program. After receiving a healthy number of applicants, BIA selected seven interns for the 2018 year to explore careers in wildland fire management.

In its third year of the Program, BIA now has 15 interns in the Program, just five students shy of full capacity. This buffer allows new students to enter the program… Continue reading this Fire Story

BIA Wilderness First Responders learn how to perform extended patient transports during a wilderness first responder class. BIA Photo by Michelle Moore, Program Coordinator
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

LEGACY OF THE DUTCH CREEK INCIDENT

On July 25, 2008 a felling accident occurred on the Eagle Fire of the Iron Complex located on the Shasta Trinity National Forest. This accident, commonly known as the Dutch Creek Serious Accident, killed firefighter Andrew “Andy” Palmer and forever changed how the wildland fire community prepares for and responds to medical incidents.

In response to the Dutch Creek Incident, in 2010, the National… Continue reading this Fire Story

Red Lake Helitack crewmembers drop plastic spheres containing potassium permanganate from the helicopter.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

Red Lake Reservation, located in the northern reaches of Minnesota, is home to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians. In May 2018, the Red Lake Helitack module assisted the Tribe with completing a 41,000 acre vegetation management project designed to thin the forest understory and restore the forest ecosystem.

Because the project area was remote with limited access, the Red Lake Helitack crew was largely used to aerially ignite and monitor the prescribed… Continue reading this Fire Story

2017 Archive

Firefighters from Fort Apache conduct a prescribed fire on a burn unit to reduce forest litter buildup, 2017.
Date Published:
Author: Fort Apache Agency

Fort Apache Agency has a long legacy of prescribed burning treatments dating back to the 1950’s. From 1950 to 1970, more than 300,000 acres were treated on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, primarily for hazardous fuel reduction. During the 1980s, 347,778 acres were treated and during the 1990s, 197,257 acres were treated with prescribed fire.

Fort Apache Agency and the White Mountain Apache Tribe have effectively treated the Apache Homelands and has… Continue reading this Fire Story

Navajo Region's A-star B-3 helicopter slings an ultra-terrain vehicle into the Supai Village, Grand Canyon, AZ.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles and Dannell Begay

Providing helicopter support and transport services to programs within Indian Affairs is an important function of the Branch of Wildland Fire Management’s Aviation Program, especially when it comes to transporting personnel and equipment to the Supai Village. Located eight miles below the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Department of Agriculture considers it to be one of the most remote villages in the nation; only mules, hikers or helicopters can access… Continue reading this Fire Story

Fire 101 Students and cadre. Top Row from left to right: Linda Tatum, Amanda Boatright, Lynn Stapor, Desiree Red Day, Aaron Baldwin, Tammy White, Eleanor Baca. Bottom Row: Sherry Prosolow, Cecilia Mendoza, and Robin White (Not pictured: Anjulie White)
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles, Amanda Boatright

During the first week in October, the BIA, Branch of Wildland Fire Management, hosted Fire 101 Training.  The training is the first of its kind and is designed to introduce payment team members and regional budget staff to business authorities, agreements, and procurement methods that bind the interagency incident business community together.

Four BIA payment team members from Reston, Virginia and two regional budget staff from Sacramento, California and… Continue reading this Fire Story

Frank Bedonie at the 2016 Division of Forestry and Wildland Fire Management National Conference
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

After more than forty years of service to the Bureau of Indian Affairs wildland fire management community, long-time dispatcher, mentor, friend and colleague, Frank Bedonie, announces his retirement.

Frank began his journey with us forty plus years ago as a Range Technician for the Navajo Land Settlement Act.  He then became the Fire Management Officer for the Ute Mountain Agency. His experience as a wildland firefighter and Fire Management Officer made… Continue reading this Fire Story

Pine Ridge Type 2 Initial Attack hand crew consists of firefighters from Pine Ridge, Yankton and Crow Creek Agencies. They left for California to support the Buck Fire Oct. 17.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

On October 10, 13 large fires ignited across California. These fires, driven by wickedly high winds (some places, over 70 mph) ripped through whole communities at a rate rarely seen across the state. Within the first couple days of starting, the fires overwhelmed state and county responders, burning over 6,000 homes and structures and forcing evacuations of whole towns. Sadly, they also claimed the lives of several dozen people with over 200 still unaccounted… Continue reading this Fire Story

BIA Photo: Jared Jajola, wildland firefighter
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles, BIA Fire Communication and Education Specialist

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Branch of Wildland Fire Management is proud to introduce Mr. Jared Jajola, the Branch’s first wildland firefighter to graduate from the Office of Trust Services (OTS) Student Internship Program.

Jajola earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies from Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado in May, 2017, ending four years of college education.

As part of the Student Internship Program, Jajola completed two summer… Continue reading this Fire Story

The Progression Map illustrates how the fire skirted the Pueblo boundary, leaving tribal lands relatively untouched.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

The Dog Head Fire was first reported on June 14, 2016 in the Manzano Mountains on the Cibola National Forest in New Mexico. The fire burned for six days, had an extended six-mile crown fire, and threatened residences around the community of Chilili, New Mexico, and Pueblo of Isleta Tribal lands in central New Mexico that are adjacent to the forest. More than 11,000 acres of Federal lands and 6,600 acres of private lands were ravaged, along with 12 residences and… Continue reading this Fire Story

Applicants line up to see a Human Resources Specialist at 2017 job fair in San Carlos, AZ
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

In Indian Country, remote rural agencies are often challenged with limited access to computers or the internet. This limited access to technology often leads to routine, hard-to-fill vacancies. In 2016 the BIA Branch of Wildland Fire Management invested $193,000 to hire four human resource assistants to address these challenges.

While numerous strategies are being taken to address hiring challenges, one successful approach that is becoming more common is… Continue reading this Fire Story

Progress of an emergency carry-out by the Navajo Interagency Hotshots. Patient #1 is moved downhill through a cut out p-line toward drop point. Photo: Randy Ostman, on-scene Safety Officer.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

The Navajo Interagency Hotshots were recognized for their dedication and foresight to being fully prepared to deal with medical emergencies in the field by starting (and continuing) their own EMS training program (since 2011) and for putting that emergency medical training into practice in August 2014 when two interagency hotshot crew (IHC) members were struck by a log rolling down a hill on the South Cle Elem Ridge fire in Washington State.

The rolling… Continue reading this Fire Story

Prescribe fire burning cypress on Seminole Reservation, FL.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

Seminole Tribe of Florida is witnessing tremendous landscape changes taking place across their landscapes that have endangered their cultural practices and ways of life. Now, using a combination of fire and water, ecological and cultural balance is slowly returning.

In 1965 two canals were built that significantly altered the hydrology of the Seminole reservations. A depression in the landscape formed, lowering the water table. With lower water tables,… Continue reading this Fire Story

2016 Archive

Fuels Treatment Assessments - Northwest Region 2015
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

The BIA Northwest Region experienced a very severe fire season in 2015, with over 500 fires burning over 481,000 acres, widespread evacuations, and losing 1.2 billion board feet of commercial timber as well as nearly 200 homes and other buildings.

Losses would have been even more severe without the 80,000 acres of fuels treatments implemented between 2003 and 2015 on the Region’s five most affected Reservations: Spokane, Yakama, Warm Springs, Colville,… Continue reading this Fire Story

Prescribed Fire 4 Rights: Right Time, Right People, Right Place, Right Choice
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

Pacific Region - The 4 Rights Campaign is about using prescribed fire being at the Right Time, by the Right People, in the Right Place, as the Right Choice.

This scalable communications campaign, developed by Charles Jachens, Soledad Holguin and Jimmy Nanamkin of the Pacific Region, is being used to teach basic fire management principles to children, adults, private citizens, land managers and other fire practitioner how Native Americans have used fire… Continue reading this Fire Story

Yolanda Yallup takes selfie with some classmates in the background at the 2016 Central Oregon Ecological Training Exchange
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles, Kim Kelly

The Central Oregon Ecological Training Exchange (TREX) is a two-week learning program designed to provide two-way training and learning for fire practitioners, land stewards and resource specialists from a wide variety of backgrounds and organizations.

Through the Fire Learning Network, a joint project of the Nature Conservancy, the USDA Forest Service and the several agencies of the U.S. Dept. of Interior and conservation staff from across the United… Continue reading this Fire Story

Lighthouse on the 200 ac. Poverty Island is centered on the southern end of the Island while a small smoke column is visible on the other side of the island, north of the structures.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

The Poverty Island Wildfire ignited June 26, 2016 by a lighting strike on a 200 square-acre island off Michigan’s Garden Peninsula in Lake Michigan.

Legend says the Island is the final resting place of four chests of gold once sent by the French to the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Never found, the island is a place of intrigue.

When the fire began threatening a historic lighthouse and associated buildings and blowing visible smoke to… Continue reading this Fire Story

KBIC lets go Chinese candles in memory of the Beartown Firefighters
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

On the evening of August 27, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) learned two of their firefighters were killed in a catastrophic vehicle accident in Blaine, Minnesota. James F. Shelifoe, Jr and Alan J. Swartz were killed while nine the other passengers traveling in a crew carrier were injured while on their way to the Box Canyon Fire in Utah.

In the days ahead, the entire wildland fire community heard about the tragedy and grieved with the KBIC.… Continue reading this Fire Story

Great Plains Region is pleased to announce Craig Martin as the new Regional Fire Operations Specialist
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

Great Plains Region is pleased to announce Craig Martin as the new Regional Fire Operations Specialist.

Throughout his 16-year career, Craig has dedicated himself to growing his experiences and qualifications. From working as a Regional Prevention Specialist, hotshot crew member, engine operator and emergency firefighter in three different agencies across the nation, Craig has developed a depth of experience that will serve the region and Indian Country… Continue reading this Fire Story

Bay Mills T2 Initial Attack Handcrew assigned to the Cedar Fire that was burning on Fort Apache Indian Reservation, July 2016.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

On July 21, 2016 – BIA Central Office announced, for the first time ever, it was providing funding for labor, equipment and supplies to stand up Initial Attack Type 2 (IAT2) training handcrews.

Out of 22 applications, three were selected: Bay Mills Indian Community, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes and Yakama Nation. These crews are vital to the Bureau and the Tribes hosting them because their purpose is to advance the qualifications of entry… Continue reading this Fire Story

Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

The Branch of Wildland Fire Management will be hosting its first annual Student Intern Orientation and Training June 7 and 8th.  Twenty-three students studying Forestry, Wildfire and Range Management from across Indian Country will come to the National Interagency Fire Center to kick off their student internships under the Bureau of Indian Affairs Pathways, Student Internship Program.

This orientation provides a forum for students to meet each other and… Continue reading this Fire Story

Mescalero Helitack Crew
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

When one hears “interagency”, do they think many agencies, one mission? The Bureau of Indian Affairs Mescalero Apache Helitack Crew is just such a crew. Consisting of members from Bureau of Indian Affairs Southwest Regional Office, Navajo Regional Office, U.S. Forest Service, Lincoln National Forest/Smokey Bear District, and Cibola National Forest, this is what interagency looks like in practice.

All Mescalero Apache helitack crew members have previous… Continue reading this Fire Story

WUI Road Treatment viewed from roadside near Pierre Place. Fire burned through the fuel break at very low intensity allowing it to be held at the road. Note crown scorch in the background beyond the fuel break boundary.
Date Published:
Author: Robyn Broyles

The Carpenter Road Fire started August 14 on a hot, dry, windy day when firefighting resources were critically low. The fire was contained September 18 after 36 days. It burned 21,000 acres of the Spokane Reservation and an estimated 56 million board feet of commercial timber, valued at over $14 million.

The WUI Roads treatments are a series of isolated roadside treatments strategically located to enhance fire protection and mitigate fire risk to timber,… Continue reading this Fire Story

indianaffairs.gov

An official website of the U.S. Department of the Interior

Looking for U.S. government information and services?
Visit USA.gov