Cultural Resources and Fire Management 

Introduction

Natural threats such as Wildland Fires and other disasters are reducing our opportunities for interpreting sites, for providing long-term access to properties valuable to Native Americans and other ethnic groups, for promoting and facilitating scientific research, and for conserving cultural and historic properties for the future.  The urgency of the fire risk on our public lands necessitates the need to conduct project planning and compliance activities in the most expeditious manner possible using the best available science.

Fire Archaeologists

To meet this demand, BLM hired additional scientific and planning staff in 2001.  Distributed throughout most of the Western States, the Fire & Heritage staff duties focus on integrating cultural heritage issues with fire management planning, fuels treatment and fire suppression efforts.

  • The fire archaeologists provide advice and assistance to land managers and stakeholders for devising approaches that address fire management issues in ways that minimize impacts and protect cultural resources to the extent practicable.
  • They accomplish this through a variety of means, including participation in project planning for fuels reduction and treatment to ensure legal obligations are met and to provide managers with needed expertise in cultural resource management.
  • The fire archaeologists oversee contracts for identifying and evaluating cultural resources within fire management project areas.
  • They are also available to provide assistance and advice to communities and property owners about strategies for reducing fire risks to historic and archaeological properties in Wildland Urban Interface areas.
The National Fire Plan

The National Fire Plan emphasizes implementation consistent with the requirements of existing environmental and cultural resource protection laws. More information about the National Fire Plan, integration into BLM's Healthy Lands Program, and Fire and Aviation Managment may be obtained from the following links:

Firewise is a mutli-agency effort to establish a national program to reach beyond the fire service by involving local communities, homeowners, planners and developers to protect people, property, and natural resources before a fire even starts.

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Fire mitigation planning

Fire mitigation plans are developed, maintained and on file for each BLM Field office (FO). The FO Cultural Staff and Fire Staff collaborate on such plans to create the best possible results within the land and resource area represented. Contact the FO if you wish to examine those plans.

Post-fire analysis

Post-fire analysis involves assessing the damage and potential risks burnt land poses and developing emergency stabilization and rehabilitation plans that identify needed treatments to reduce or eliminate those risks.

Short-term emergency treatment to stabilize burnt land that threatens public safety, property, or ecosystems or long-term treatments to rehabilitate land unlikely to recover naturally is the subject of a recently released General Accounting Office report. See the GAO report entitled "Wildland Fires: Better Information Needed on Effectiveness of Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation Treatments".