National Wildlife Refuge System

Smoke Management

In many parts of the country wildland fire is a large, intermittent source of particulates that can have significant short-term impact on fine particulate concentrations, safety, and visibility. In general, the ecological need for the use of managed fire (prescribed fire and unplanned ignitions) is increasing as fuel loadings increase, unnatural successional changes continue, and research clarifies the role of fire in natural ecosystems. However, new and proposed air pollution standards and regulations threaten to restrict the use of prescribed burning as a land management tool. Those regulations and programs include proposed new fine particulate standards, ozone regulations and regional haze State Implementation Plans currently under development. These challenges can be reduced or eliminated if land managers are knowledgeable of the impact of their emissions, are able to minimize both the amount and impact of smoke emitted into the atmosphere, and can participate effectively with the public and air regulatory agencies.

The following documents identify the charter, membership, and priorities for the National Wildfire Coordinator Group (NWCG) Smoke Committee (SmoC). This committee was previously developed at the direction of the Wildland Fire Leadership Council to address air quality issues that may involve the management of wildland fire.

SmoC Charter
SmoC Membership List (PDF 90 KB)
MyFireCommunity - Air Quality and Fire Issues

The following documents and links identify ambient air quality standards and rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5)
Ozone

The following documents (links) provide useful on the impacts of smoke and smoke management techniques.

Smoke Management Guide for Prescribed and Wildland Fire (2001) (PDF 6.70MB)
Wildland Fire in Ecosystems: Effects of Fire on Air

The following document identifies current EPA policy relative to wildland fire. A final version is currently being drafted by the EPA.

Interim Policy on Air Quality and Wildland and Prescribed Fire (04/23/98) (85KB)

Last updated: March 21, 2013