National Fire Plan
Blodgett Canyon Fire, 2000
The National Fire Plan (NFP) is a long-term strategy for reducing the effects of catastrophic wildfires throughout the nation. The DNRC NFP Program is implemented partly within the Forestry Division's Fire and Aviation Management Bureau (FAMB) through existing state and private forestry programs which are: County Cooperative Fire Program and State Fire Assistance Program.
After the 2000 wildfire season, Congress authorized funding within the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to implement the National Fire Plan (NFP). The National Fire Plan is a long-term strategy for reducing the effects of catastrophic wildfires throughout the nation. There are five key points to the National Fire Plan.
- Increase in fire suppression capabilities (firefighting)
- Rehabilitation of burned areas and restoration of landscapes
- Reduction of hazardous fuels
- Assistance to communities
- Accountability to the public and to Congress
The Western Governors' Association has developed a 10-Year Comprehensive Strategy and an implementation plan, titled A Collaborative Approach for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities and the Environment. These documents provide direction at the national, regional, state, and local levels on National Fire Plan issues.
NFP funding to the states occurs under the community assistance point and is made available through the USFS state and private forestry programs. DNRC has responsibility for delivery of these programs on state-owned and private lands in Montana.
The DNRC NFP Program is implemented primarily within the Forestry Division's Fire and Aviation Management Bureau (FAMB) and Service Forestry Bureau (SFB). The National Fire Plan is delivered, wherever appropriate, through existing state and private forestry programs. These programs are:
- County Cooperative Fire Program (FAMB)
- State Fire Assistance Program (FAMB)
- Private Forestry Assistance Program (SFB)
- Stewardship Program (SFB)
Volunteer and Rural Fire Assistance
The Volunteer and Rural Fire Assistance (VFA/RFA) Program provides assistance to county fire agencies for equipment, training, and fire prevention materials. Adding National Fire Plan funding resulted in a grant program with more money than ever before. Again in 2003, the Department of the Interior agencies (BLM, FWS & BLM) contributed their budgeted Rural Fire Assistance Program dollars to be combined with the Volunteer Fire Assistance funds granted by the USDA Forest Service. The total assistance available in Montana exceeded $1.1 million again this year. DNRC and its partners were recognized with the Ben Franklin Award, given by the Forest Service annually to one state for excellence in delivering these programs.
State Fire Assistance
Administered through the State Fire Assistance Program, NFP-funded projects are under way in the following Montana communities:
|Big Timber||Greenough/Potomac||Lincoln||Swan Lake|
|Choteau||Hungry Horse||Philipsburg||West Glacier|
Hazardous Fuel Reduction
Fuel reduction projects and vegetation treatments have been identified as a means of mitigating wildfire hazards. Projects of this type include fuel breaks, thinning, pruning, landscape modifications, etc.
Information & Education in the Wildland / Urban Interface
Homeowners and local government bear much of the responsibility for improving the defensibility of homes in the interface, but may lack knowledge & information regarding what needs to be done & how to do it.
Homeowner & Community Action
Creating conditions in and around individual structures that will limit the transmission of fire from wildland to structures is basic to reducing the fire hazard in the interface. This is a responsibility of home owners and communities.
A cost-share program in and around Libby provides homeowners with assistance in reducing hazardous fuels around their homes.
Defensible Space Home Audit Program
The FAMB has completed its two-year Defensible Space Home Audit Program. This program, which was well received by the public, provided free home inspections for homeowners living in the wildland/urban interface. During these inspections, homeowners spent an hour or two with an official from their local fire department, examining their structures and landscape for fire hazards. Homeowners were given a copy of the inspection report, and a copy was forwarded to the DNRC fire prevention specialist. In all, close to 2,000 home inspections were performed, and the data from these inspections will assist the DNRC Fire Prevention Program in targeting education to address specific homeowner safety concerns.