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Fuels Management

Providing leadership, executive direction, technical assistance and guidance to regional, tribal and agency hazardous fuels management programs.

The Fuels Management program in Indian Country manages a variety of ecosystems across the Unites States that range from arid, to humid, warm to cold and sea level to over 10,000 feet elevations. The areas of responsibility are a broad spectrum of ecosystems spanning from Alaska to Florida.

Ecosystems no longer look or have the ecological conditions they once did as a result of excluding fire. Today’s landscapes are ripe for disease, insect infestation, and catastrophic wildfires. To address these issues, the Fuels Management Program works with BIA's 12 regions and agencies to provide funding that reduces hazardous vegetation in and around the wildland urban interface (WUI) and outside the WUI, where most treatments occur.  These treatments are performed either through prescribed fires or mechanical treatments. 

In order to restore landscapes to their natural and cultural place, the BIA works closely with tribal elders and other specialist to identify the desired management objects for their land. Many objectives are designed to restore landscapes to their traditional uses. Traditional landscape fosters diversity and sustainability; supports edible and medicinal plants; and creates an environment that encourages spiritual involvement. To restore natural and cultural resources to familiar landscapes, BIA fuels management staff work alongside tribes, blending traditional ecological knowledge with a scientific approach. 

The effects of fire on the landscape and its impact on vegetation and wildlife are important aspects of fire management. Understanding the effects fire has to the landscape is essential to effective landscape restoration. This is why the BIA also provides resources that help fuels managers reach their desired fire effects through fire monitoring.

A key to developing the correct prescriptions for prescribed fires and monitoring fire behavior is having accurate and timely weather data. Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) are used to support decisions impacting public and firefighter safety. The data they produce supports interagency fire danger predictions and provides critical information used in making decisions regarding firefighter resource placement, staffing levels, appropriate suppression response, and other strategic decisions at local, regional, and national levels.

The BIA Branch of Wildland Fire Management maintains a contract with Forest Technology Systems (FTS) to provide annual and emergency maintenance for all permanent and portable Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) across Indian Country. There are 80 permanent stations and 19 portable stations in use.  

In addition to providing treatments that help restore landscapes, the Fuels Management program oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program

While many wildfires cause little damage to the land and pose few threats to fish, wildlife and people downstream, some fires create situations that require special efforts to prevent further problems after the fire. Loss of vegetation exposes soil to erosion; runoff may increase and cause flooding, sediments may move downstream and damage houses or fill reservoirs, and put endangered species and community water supplies at risk. The Bureau of Indian Affairs BAER program addresses these situations with the goal of protecting life, property, water quality, and deteriorated ecosystems from further damage after the fire is out.

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