Tall Timbers endorses bipartisan legislation introduced to support prescribed fire

Jun 12, 2024

Tall Timbers is endorsing the recently introduced bipartisan National Prescribed Fire Act of 2024. The bill includes continued investments in prescribed fire and important policy direction to help protect existing burning while also expanding the use of beneficial fire. 

Initially introduced in 2021, the National Prescribed Fire Act’s 2024 reintroduction includes significant improvements that reflect Tall Timbers’ increased national advocacy efforts over the past few years. 

Key topics we have been discussing with elected officials include establishing more consistent liability standards for fire practitioners, studying the merits of a claims fund for situations without private market insurance solutions, and creating a clearer path for prescribed fire implementation under the new PM 2.5 standards of the Clean Air Act. The proposed bill includes direction on each of these complex topics that Tall Timbers has prioritized for protecting and expanding the use of prescribed fire.       

The bill also retains its previous focus on training and workforce development, establishing the skills and jobs to tackle the hard work of implementing safe prescribed fires and reintroducing fire in areas deprived of needed burning for years. Tall Timbers training programs, landowner extension services, and our close relationship with the National Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Center all help keep our research grounded in the needs of those managing the land and provide a direct connection for sharing research results. Stewarding land with prescribed fire can be complex, so training and hands-on learning are essential.   

Tall Timbers’ renewed efforts on national-scale outreach and advocacy regarding fire have been aided by the Brumidi Group, our policy and strategy consultant based in Washington, D.C., donor support for a second planning and advocacy staff member, and the tireless outreach and education efforts of Dr. Morgan Varner, our Director of Research, and Neil Fleckenstein, our Planning and Advocacy Coordinator.

Tall Timbers is committed to working with elected officials on improvements to the National Prescribed Fire Act of 2024 as it moves through the legislative process. We encourage conservation groups to support the bill and look forward to coordinating with partners to address improvements. We will also keep our subscribers in the loop on strategic opportunities to seek support from your elected officials.  

Key items in the National Prescribed Fire Act of 2024 presented in the press release for the reintroduction of the bill:

  • Authorizes $300 million in total for accounts for the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to plan, prepare, and conduct prescribed burns on federal, state, and private lands. 
  • Requires the Forest Service and Department of Interior to increase the number of acres treated with prescribed fire.
  • Establishes a collaborative program, based on the successful Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, to implement prescribed burns on county, state and private land at high risk of burning in a wildfire. 
  • Establishes a workforce development program at the Forest Service and Interior agencies to develop, train, and hire prescribed fire practitioners, and establishes employment programs for Tribes, veterans, women, and those formerly incarcerated.
  • Requires state air quality agencies to use current laws and regulations to allow larger prescribed burns, and give states more flexibility in winter months to conduct prescribed burns that reduce catastrophic smoke events in the summer. 
  • Provides direction for setting clear standards for prescribed fire practitioner liability and studying the merits of a claims fund to aid cross-jurisdictional wildfire prevention efforts.

A one-page summary of the bill is here

The text of the bill is here.

The National Prescribed Fire Act of 2024 is endorsed by Tall Timbers, The Nature Conservancy, Society of American Foresters, Outdoor Alliance, Sustainable Northwest, Conservation Northwest, Watershed Research & Training Center, Silvix Resources, National Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils, SC Prescribed Fire Council, New Mexico Prescribed Fire Council, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, The Stewardship Project, Forest Stewards Guild, Climate & Wildfire Institute FiredUp: Federal Wildland Firefighter Partners for Progress, Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, Forest Bridges: The O&C Forest Habitat, Inc., Intertribal Timber Council, and The Fire Restoration Group.

About the Author
Brian Wiebler
The Tall Timbers Communications Director is always looking for an excuse to be outdoors. Birds, bikes, boats, boots... all good things for Brian. Originally from Iowa, he grew up in a family with a strong hunting and conservation ethic. This led to a career that has spanned from California to Florida with positions as a wildlife biologist, urban forester, and environmental planner, before landing "home" with Tall Timbers in 2016.
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