Forest Service Enjoys Record Fire Year

The Forest Service reports 2020 has been a record fire year, with more national forest acres burned (5 million) than at any time since 1910. This is 2.5 times the average of the last 10 years, a remarkable achievement given that fire ignitions in 2020 increased by only 5% compared to the 10-year average. 2020’s average size of 735 acres/fire dwarfs the decade’s second-highest at 422 acres/fire.

The Forest Service attributes its success to “prioritizing early suppression of wildfire ignitions.”

10 thoughts on “Forest Service Enjoys Record Fire Year”

  1. Of the list of accomplishments, I wish if the FS knew that 95% were satisfied, they would also know how many there were and compare it to last year. Maybe it’s time for some kind of annual recreation # survey/estimation.

    “This year, Americans sought out their public lands in tremendous numbers, finding relief in the Great Outdoors, showing us once again how public lands unite our nation. In response, the Forest Service generated solutions to ensure visitors had every opportunity to safely use and enjoy their national forests and grasslands during the pandemic. The Forest Service welcomed record-breaking numbers of visitors, many of whom were first time users, with 95% expressing satisfaction with their experiences.”

  2. The major challenge, even when I was Dep Chief in 2000, is that money spent keeps rising geometrically, yet it has little effect on suppressing fire extent. At some point, the FS and other agencies should be able to “bend the curve” by using more costly, sophisticated technology (water drops, MAAFs, mapping tech etc) that depresses acres consumed. What recent history seems to show is no matter how much you spend, it has little to no effect on fire behavior and consequences.

    Initial attack can still prevent project fires, but once fires escape containment it’s off to the races with acres burned and money (until the weather intervenes, as always). The vexing question is whether spending enormous sums has corresponding benefits?

    • “What recent history seems to show is no matter how much you spend, it has little to no effect on fire behavior and consequences.” Are you saying that fire suppression efforts aren’t useful? Not clear to me.

      • I’m saying that much fire suppression spending accomplishes little or nothing. I do believe that important icons (eg Old Faithful Lodge) and towns and structures might be spared by steering fire, or direct efforts. I am NOT a fire boss, never been one, but it seems that once equipment (especially air show) is on site it is put to use, at great expense — often with little or nothing to show for it.

  3. Hey, President Biden, settle the Black Hills Claim. Move the US Forest Service into the Department of the Interior, dissolve the Black Hills National Forest and make it a national monument co-managed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the tribal nations signatory to the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move.

    Rewild it and rename it Paha Sapa National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge connecting the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge in Montana along the Missouri River to Oacoma, South Dakota combined with corridors from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon in the north and south to the Pecos River through Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.


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