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Wildfire Prevention

The Mission of the Wildfire Prevention Program is to reduce the frequency of human-caused wildfires across Indian Country.

Human-caused fires are the greatest cause of wildfires in Indian Country. Statistics show intentionally started human-caused wildfires have the highest frequency of all causes. As a result, in 2002 the BIA initiated an aggressive Wildfire Prevention Program to address human-caused fires.

Facts by the Numbers:

  • From 2001 to 2010, Indian Country experienced an annual average of 4,840 human-caused wildfires.
  • From 2011 to 2020, Indian Country experienced an annual average of 3,678 human-caused wildfires indicating the positive effect of the implemented Wildfire Prevention Programs.
  • BIA has 40 funded Wildfire Prevention Programs serving 175 Tribes nationally.
  • 1,239 communities have been included in Indian Country Community Wildfire Protection Plans, which guides the communities on prevention strategies to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Preventing wildfires is everyone’s responsibility, from the casual user of natural resources to Federal agency administrators, from Tribal leaders to land managers. Wildfire prevention is a part of the BIA’s basic trust responsibility and must be performed regardless of funding availability. To be successful, wildfire prevention must be proactive and managers must first understand the primary causes of wildfires and their underlying issues. Through education, enforcement, engineering, and administrative actions, it is possible to reduce human-caused wildfires.

Indian Country’s Wildfire Prevention Program focuses on educating individuals and communities on how to prevent unwanted human-caused fires. This is done through school programs, events, media, patrols, inspections, and other prevention strategies. 

Although there are several Indian Country wildfire prevention approaches, three program-specific examples include:

BIA Youth Fire Intervention Program

The goal of this community-focused fire intervention program is to teach youth, who misuse fire or who have started dangerous and unsupervised fires, fire responsibility. In the program, they learn how to be proactive in protecting their family, tribal community, and natural resources from wildfire. The program uses a multi-disciplinary coalition and restorative justice driven fire prevention, safety, and survival curriculum approach to address the needs of the youth involved. To learn more about the Youth Fire Intervention Program, click the link: BIA Youth Fire Intervention Page 

Wildfire Investigation

It is BIA policy to determine the origin and cause of all wildfires occurring on Indian Lands. Wildfire investigations are conducted when there is potential for a wildfire to result in tort claims, damages to tribal resources and trespass damage recovery, litigation, or when arson is a possibility. To learn more about Wildfire Investigation, click the link: BIA Fire Investigation Page

WeTip

WeTip is a national non-profit organization that BIA has teamed up with to report arson. WeTip offers a 24/7 telephone hotline (1-800-472-7766) for people who have information about arson and want to make an anonymous report. A financial reward up to $10,000 is available to those who provide information that leads to proper adjudication of criminal activity associated with wildfires. Visit the Wildfire Investigation page to learn more about WeTip and BIA: BIA Fire Investigation Page

 

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