Fuels, Fire and Smoke: Evolving to meet our climate challenge

Wildfires present an increasing challenge to humans and to the ecosystems and atmosphere we depend on. Our response to larger and more destructive wildfires and ability to prepare for a changing climate is increasingly challenged. Understanding fire behavior and human response is ever more important. 

7th annual conference

The 7th International Fire Behaviour and Fuels Conference offers a forum at which fire management experience and lessons are documented, current work showcased, and emerging research is shared.

This conference on three continents showcases new fire management policies and frameworks to address fire risks and build resilience.  The conference will unite policy makers, scientists, fire managers, and Indigenous land stewards for a shared purpose and a better future living with fire.

Held concurrently in Tralee, Ireland and Canberra, Australia and Boise, Idaho.


  • Monday: Workshops, Field Tours, Keynote Session by Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell, Opening reception with sponsors and exhibitors.
  • Tuesday: Sessions, exhibitors, and Poster session/reception.
  • Wednesday: Field tours, workshops, career fair
  • Thursday: Sessions and exhibitors
  • Friday: Explore Boise or travel day.

Boise featured speakers

MORE INFO: firebehaviorandfuelsconference.com


CALL FOR PRESENTATIONS: 7th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference

The 7th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference is scheduled for April 15–19, 2024 and will be held  simultaneously in Boise, Canberra, and Tralee, Ireland. Conference organizers are now calling for presentations, and each location is inviting presentation proposals.

The IAWF Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference provides a forum at which fire management experience and lessons learned are documented, and current work is showcased. Emerging research, innovation, and management techniques are shared, to develop integrated solutions to wildfire challenges.


This conference on three continents will showcase several countries’ development and integration of fire management policies and frameworks at national, regional, and local levels to address fire risks and build resilience.  The conference brings together policy makers, scientists, fire managers, and indigenous land stewards for a shared purpose and a different future living with fire.

DEADLINE extended to 31. October

The International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) professional association committed to a non-partisan approach for uniting the global wildland fire community. We were formed in 1990 as a global professional membership association. For 30 years IAWF has grown from a fledgling organization to the foremost global wildfire-focused association spanning 26+ countries. The IAWF was built on the belief that an understanding of this dynamic natural force is vital for natural resource management, for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of firefighters and the public, and for harmonious interactions between people and their environment. IAWF is dedicated to communicating with the entire wildland fire community and providing a global link for people with shared interest in wildland fire and associated topics of this multifaceted community. To accomplish these goals, we create networks across sectors, fields, and disciplines to connect the wildfire community through multiple platforms including conferences, our website, the International Journal of Wildland Fire, Wildfire Magazine, and social media outlets.

Department of Interior outlines changes enabled by Infrastructure Bill

The legislation provides a historic $4.5 billion for federal wildland fire management programs

Firefighters air tanker
Firefighters observe a retardant drop by an RJ85 air tanker. DOI photo.

Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service outlined the changes the agency will implement in their fuels management program to reflect the large influx of funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill signed by the President November 15, 2021.

This week the Department of the Interior released information about how the funds will affect a range of Interior’s programs. Four agencies in the DOI have significant wildland fire responsibilities: National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The article below was written by Erin McDuff, a public affairs specialist with the DOI’s Office of Wildland Fire.

The law includes $1.2 trillion to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and railways; expand access to clean drinking water; ensure every American has access to high-speed internet; tackle the climate crisis; advance environmental justice; and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.

A Historic Investment in Wildland Fire Management

The law is a once-in-a-generation investment, but you might be wondering what it has to do with wildfires. As part of the nation’s efforts to address climate change and support resilient, climate-adapted communities, BIL provides a historic $4.5 billion for federal wildland fire management efforts over the next five years.

Within the federal government, the Interior and Agriculture departments both administer wildland fire programs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service will receive an additional $3 billion through BIL while the Interior Department will receive approximately $1.5 billion for wildland fire management over the next five years. Both departments will coordinate closely to maximize the benefits of these additional investments.

What It Means

The Interior Department will dramatically expand its efforts to reduce wildfire risk, prepare for and respond to harmful wildfires, and support post-fire recovery, including in communities that have traditionally been overlooked. In 2022 alone, the Interior Department will invest an additional $407 million in wildland fire management.

Over the next five years, the primary investments will include:

Reducing Risk
The Interior Department will improve ecosystem health and remove fuel for wildfires on additional acreage using an additional $878 million.

Wildfire Recovery
With an additional $325 million, the Interior Department will expand burned area restoration activities.

Workforce Improvements
An additional $164 million will enable the Interior Department to improve firefighter classification, compensation, benefits, mental health resources, and training.

Technology and Equipment
With an additional $72 million, the Interior Department will improve the use of technology and equipment to detect and respond to wildfires.

Supporting Science
The Interior Department will invest an additional $10 million in the Joint Fire Science Program to identify and fund high-priority fire science research.

What Happens Next

The Interior Department, in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service, is currently developing plans for the strategic implementation of this historic investment.

We are focused on implementing these significant investments in forest and rangeland restoration, hazardous fuel management, wildfire preparation, and post-wildfire recovery as quickly and efficiently as possible. BIL includes aggressive timelines, which we are prepared to meet, and we will share updates throughout the year as our work progresses.

Photo series — mitigating fuels from tornado damage, Black Hills National Forest

Prescribed fire

Spearfish Canyon tornado fuels piles burning fire
1. Downed trees and debris after tornado.

Yesterday the Black Hills National Forest began the final phase of mitigating the downed trees, the fuels, left after a tornado passed through Spearfish Canyon along highway 14A between Cheyenne Crossing and Savoy southwest of Deadwood, South Dakota. There are about 200 piles (from Moskee Road to Sand Creek to Williams Gulch) that crews are planning to burn over the next few days.

The first photo shows the area after the tornado. The second shows piles of debris created so they could be burned later. In the third, one of the piles is surrounded by snow, and finally, they are being burned.

Igniting the fuels while there is snow on the ground greatly reduces the chances of escaping and igniting a wildfire.

Photo credit: US Forest Service / Josh Hoffmann.

Spearfish Canyon tornado fuels piles burning fire
2. Piles constructed to burn later.
Spearfish Canyon tornado fuels piles burning fire
3. Pile surrounded by snow.
Spearfish Canyon tornado fuels piles burning fire
4. Burning of piles began January 25, 2022.

Forest Service video about fuel treatments and the Caldor Fire

The fire burned 221,000 acres near South Lake Tahoe, California

10:46 a.m. PDT Oct. 21, 2021

Fuel treatments Caldor Fire
Image from USFS video about fuel treatments and the Caldor Fire.

The U.S. Forest Service has released a four-minute video featuring the Forest Supervisors of the Eldorado National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit discussing fuel treatments that occurred in the years before the Caldor Fire burned nearly a quarter of a million acres southwest of South Lake Tahoe, California.

Forest Service Chief calls for treating two to four times more hazardous fuels acres

Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen
Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources June 17, 2021. (Still image from the Committee video.)

In what will be one of her last appearances in a Congressional hearing before she retires at the end of August, U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen called repeatedly for a “paradigm shift” for treating hazardous fuels.

Today she testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to defend the President’s budget request for the U.S. Forest Service for Fiscal Year 2022 which begins October 1.

In addition to increasing the amount of timber harvested on Forest Service lands, the topic of reducing the number of devastating wildfires came up many times in the hour and a half hearing. A video is available on the Committee’s website.

Senator John Barrasso (WY) mentioned (at 27:49 in the video) that in an April hearing the chief said a paradigm shift was needed to reduce the hazard fuels in forests. He asked,  “Do we need to dramatically increase the number of [wildfire mitigation] acres treated annually?” Chief Christiansen said,”Yes… We can’t just do the same old thing we’ve always done, just treat whatever acres we can get to… We have a crisis. We have a crisis that needs to be addressed differently.”

The Chief said the agency treats about three million acres each year, but they need to treat two to four times that amount.

Senator Ron Wyden (OR) got the Chief to confirm that the agency’s latest estimate is that it would take $20 billion over a 10-year period  to “get in front of the hazardous fuel challenge” (at 39:25).

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group created a wildland fire glossary of terms, which includes their definition of “hazard fuels”:

A fuel complex defined by kind, arrangement, volume, condition, and location that presents a threat of ignition and resistance to control.

Senator Wyden addressed the possibility of a fire season this year that could be worse than average (at 36:40). He asked, “What is the plan for keeping people safe when there are fires in multiple communities in the West?”

Chief Christiansen said, in part, that in recent years there has been competition for firefighting resources when the number of fires have resulted in requests for firefighters and equipment that were unable to be filled, and later said, “Our system is at a breaking point.”

Senator Wyden asked the Chief to submit a “written statement on what the plans are if we are short on resources in the West.”

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) asked if the President’s proposed budget includes sufficient funding for battling wildfires, post-fire recovery, prevention, reducing hazard fuels, and addressing invasive species.

“Senator, it’s a step in the right direction. A significant step in the right direction… It helps in modernizing our wildland fire workforce. It does not get us every step that we need to be.

“I’m very concerned about our workforce,” she continued. “They are tired, and fatigued. Their mental well-being and stress that we are concerned about. Many of these folks are temporary employees and they try to make a year’s living in six to nine months. There are still more things to address, but this budget is a very good first step.

Senator Masto asked about the recruitment and retention challenges that the agency is facing (1:05:30).

“It’s a calling to do this work,” the Chief said. “But anybody should be able to have a living wage to do this work. We do have concerns about a competitive wage… We are committed to work with the Department of the Interior and others to do a comprehensive look at our workforce needs.”

“Please share that,” said Senator Masto. “It’s the same thing I’m hearing in my state from our fire chiefs. It’s a challenge. And this is something we have to address.”

Senator Angus King (Maine) said timber sales on public lands fell from 13 billion board feet in 1988 to 3.2 billion last year, a factor of five, he said. (1:13:07) “What in the hell happened,” he asked. Later he said, “Coincidentally from 1991 to 2020 the number of acres burned has gone up by a factor of five. Is there a connection?”

“Yes sir, there is,” the Chief quickly replied. The Senator moved on to another topic and did not allow her to fully explain why she thought there is a connection.