Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Pacific Southwest Region Fire Management

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How We Work With Nature

Illustration by Miriam Morril

Illustration by Miriam Morril

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works through a number of programs to address the two faces of fire; beneficial and detrimental. Our fire program works with partners to prevent and mitigate detrimental fire effects by reducing hazardous fuels levels, enhancing firefighting capabilities and educating the public about fire preparedness and planning. We are also one of the leading agencies in utilizing fire as a tool to help restore and manage habitats for fish, wildlife and plants.

Most of the wildlife and habitats on our national wildlife refuges have evolved with some level of fire and many ecosystems and species are fire-dependent. We use prescribed fire along with a myriad of other mechanical and biological tools to effectively and efficiently manage habitat. In Nevada, where we have large and remote wildlife refuges, wildfires can be used, when safe and appropriate, to help benefit habitats. In such cases, the wildfire effects are more beneficial to the environment than suppressing the fire. Fire suppression actions can have negative impacts to natural resources. When wildfire is managed to benefit resources, fire suppression costs are reduced, firefighter risks are reduced, and the need and cost of future prescribed fire is reduced.

Our Endangered Species Program works with biological experts to develop plans to help recover listed species (Recovery Plans) and protect and conserve their habitats through Endangered Species Act consultations and Habitat Conservation Plans. Many plans and consultations emphasize fire as a natural and needed process to conserve and protect threatened and endangered species. Catastrophic wildfires and suppression actions can have negative impacts to listed species. The Service works with partners and incident management teams to develop minimum impacts strategies and tactics (MIST). In all fire related plans and recommendations firefighter and public safety considerations comes first.

We provide technical expertise and support to private landowners and agency partners on how to enhance and protect the ecosystem through sound fire management practices. A key to successful fire management is the integration and analysis of societal and ecological factors through cooperative landscape planning.

How You Can Work with Nature

  • Become educated about fire and it's role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem
  • Work with local, state and federal partners to determine the fire management needs for your area (visit our Zone Fire Pages to meet and learn about what we're doing in your area)
  • Empower yourself by utilizing firewise and fire safe practices
  • Implement best management practices which reduce negative impacts to wildlife and the environment.

Best Management Practices for Fuel Reduction & Fire Management