National fire management strategy over the past several years has undergone enormous changes and the CCFZ fire program has restructured to meet the challenge of expanding goals and objectives. In general, the fire management program administers the following activities for the three field offices: fire suppression and aviation; fuels management including prescribed fire and non-fire landscape treatments; post-wildfire emergency stabilization and rehabilitation; and fire prevention and mitigation. The CCFZ collaborates in all aspects of fire management with local and federal agencies including the National Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Utah State Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, and community and county partners. Details about ongoing and planned fuels management activities can be found in the fuels management section of this website, and up-to-date information on wildland fires in the Monticello Field Office area can be found at the Utah Fire Information website.
Monticello Field Office Fire Management
The 1.8 million acres of public lands within the Monticello Field Office engage many aspects of the CCFZ fire program. The public lands within the field office area average 51 fires a year, burning an average total of 785 acres each year. While the field office area has not had any extreme high-acreage fires in the past ten years, portions of the field office such as the Montezuma Canyon and Cedar Mesa areas have the potential for significantly large fires. Due to the high number of acres vegetated with old growth pinyon/juniper that has been subject to both drought and insect predation, both of these areas are susceptible to fast moving crown fires comparable to the Mesa Verde fires of 2000. The 650 acre Coal Bed fire in 1994 and the 1,100 acre Horse fire in 2002 are examples of large pinyon/juniper fires in the Monticello Field Office. Fire management decisions in these highly flammable pinyon/juniper areas must consider a variety of resources such as private lands and infrastructure, the high density of cultural resources, critical riparian and threatened and endangered species habitat, wilderness study areas, and oil and gas development.
The wildland/urban interface (WUI) between private and public lands requires a management response to wildland fire that will protect human life and private property while also considering potential benefits to public lands from the natural ecological process of wildland fire. The CCFZ fuels program collaborates on projects to mitigate hazardous fuels on public lands in and around the twelve communities in the Monticello Field Office area that have been identified as at risk from wildland fire. Since 2002, thousands of acres of hazardous fuels have been treated in the Monticello Field Office area through the use of prescribed fire and by mechanical means such as hand thinning and brushhog [bullhog]. More information on the fuels program as well as other aspects of CCFZ fire management can be found by clicking on various subheadings on the right side of this page.