Comparing prescribed fire activity across the United States

Trying to compare the acres treated with prescribed fire in California and Florida is like comparing apples and penguins. In addition to California’s significant regulatory issues, the vegetation there is more explosive (in some areas), the terrain complicates ignition, and the road systems and access can sometimes be challenging. By comparison Florida is flat, access is usually much easier, and the fuels are not as difficult for an experienced prescribed fire crew to safely ignite.

But with the increased wildfire activity in recent decades and pressure from many sources to treat hazardous fuels and rake the forests, more attention is being focused on prescribed fire as one way to mitigate the effects of climate change. However the number of acres treated on federal lands is directly related to the funds appropriated for that purpose. And those dollars have been relatively flat for a number of years.

Climate Central put together some interesting graphics. (Click on the images twice to see larger versions and more tweets in the thread.)

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

3 thoughts on “Comparing prescribed fire activity across the United States”

  1. Interesting comparison, but his numbers are at least partly inaccurate. As you’ve reported elsewhere on this fine website, over 2 million acres burned this year in Kansas in rx fire, which is not unusual. 2018 was a little less, but he’s showing it as less than 32,000 here. Perhaps he’s looking only at burns conducted by federal agencies, which might fit those numbers, but that would be barely over 1% of the acres rx burned in the state.

  2. There was a similar story on NPR just the other day. They made it sound like the west was just beginning to get into rx and like theres nothing to it… so why dont those fools out west get on board!? Georgia’s been burning for years, dont ya know, and its easy!
    Having split my career between the two I think the west in general could learn some from the east, but I know its not near as easy burning in the west either, and anyone who suggests they just get on it and quit wasting time should go try it there first. Not to mention the smoke issues where you have topography that settles it all in the valleys where people live.
    That said, thumbs up for more prescribed fire wherever you can do it!

  3. I think you’ve really oversimplified prescribed burning in the Southeast. I’ll give you a grand tour of some Titi swamps in the spring that are not “easily accesible” and have every bit of explosiveness in the fuels you can find anywhere in the world. Melaleuca maybe?

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