Alaska Fire Service
The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) provides wildland fire operations and suppression on Department of the Interior and Native lands in Alaska and provides oversight of the BLM Alaska aviation program while sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of public land for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. This is accomplished through interagency partnerships, consultation, cooperation and communication of with BLM offices, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. military in Alaska and Alaska Native organizations, communities and Tribes.
The BLM AFS was created in 1982 in the wake of the significant changes in land managers and owners that occurred in the 21 years between 1959 and 1980 with passage of the Alaska Statehood Act, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and the Alaska National Interest Conservation Act. Prior to the passage of those acts, because BLM had managed most of the federal domain and provided the fire response on all that land, it made sense to keep that responsibility within a single agency rather that develop separate programs for each new land manager. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has placed the responsibility for wildand fire suppression operations in Alaska with the BLM AFS in order to provide cost effective response and minimize duplication of suppression systems. The BLM AFS implements that responsibility through an agreement with the State of Alaska and U.S. Forest Service that simplifies which agency provides the initial suppression response in different areas of the state. The centralized nature of BLM AFS has allowed all the land managers in the DOI, including BLM, to focus their efforts and energy on resource management rather than on managing a fire program and developing redundant systems.
The BLM AFS model works well in Alaska because of the size of the state, relatively low population, and land and resource management plans that recognize the role fire has historically played in the environment.
This is in contrast to fire management in the rest of the country where the values at risk are very different, ownership is more complex, and the ability to manage fire’s natural role in the ecosystem is much more difficult.
Fort Wainwright, AK 99703
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