Impediments to prescribed fire across agency, landscape and manager: an example from northern California

TitleImpediments to prescribed fire across agency, landscape and manager: an example from northern California
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsQuinn-Davidson, LN
Secondary AuthorsVarner, MJ
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Start Page210
Keywordsprescribed burning, technical reports and journal articles

Though the need for prescribed fire is widely recognised, its use remains subject to a range of operational and social constraints. Research has focussed on identifying these constraints, yet past efforts have focussed disproportionately on single agencies and geographic regions. We examined constraints on prescribed fire by surveying a wide variety of organisations (including six state and federal agencies and several tribes, non-governmental organisations and timber companies) in northern California, a fire-prone region of the western United States. Across the region, prescribed burning annually covered only 38% of the area needed to fulfil land-management objectives, and 66% of managers indicated dissatisfaction with levels of prescribed fire activity. The highest-ranked impediments were narrow burn window, regulations, lack of adequate personnel and environmental laws. Impediment ratings differed among entities, with legal and social impediments of greater concern in the private sector than in the public, and economic impediments of greater concern in the state and private sectors than in the federal. Comparisons with the south-eastern United States, where similar research has taken place, point to important regional constraints on prescribed fire activity. These findings suggest further need for research spanning geographic and ownership boundaries, as prescribed fire impediments can vary by context.