The policy surrounding wildfires — from how to prevent them to how to fight them — is a source of heated debate that can be heard on the national news and in local town meetings.

View of Leroux Fire from South Snow Bowl Road, June 11, 2001.

Conversations between citizens, elected officials, forest caretakers and wildfire professionals lead to policies that pave the way for comprehensive plans aimed at fire prevention and response.

Forest Officers at timber line on San Francisco Peaks, ca. 1920.

Important questions resonate at both local and national levels. Where does the money come from? How do our politicians rally for resources in difficult budget times? How does wildfire compete with other issues on the agenda? Who decides what the priorities are? How do you create a plan that reflects the many viewpoints of constituents?

to be cataloged Thinning the thickets of ponderosa pine in the urban areas of Flagstaff, June 26, 2001.

The National Fire Plan is an interagency effort to respond to severe wildland fires, reduce their impacts on rural communities, and assure sufficient firefighting capacity in the future. The USDA Forest Service, Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters are among the organizations which have joined forces to implement the plan, which focuses on firefighting; rehabilitation and restoration; hazardous fuel reduction; community assistance; and accountability.

On a local level, some cities are adopting their own strategies for protecting their communities. The "Flagstaff Plan" is a nationally known example in which the City of Flagstaff works with the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service and others to manage forest fuels surrounding the community of Flagstaff, reducing the probability of a catastrophic fire in the community. This wildland/urban interface model has relevance nationally.

Gale Norton
Secretary of the Interior, 2001-2006

"We are in the process now of looking at how we handle fire problems for the long term."

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