A prescribed burn helps keep a longleaf ecosystem healthy.

A prescribed burn helps keep a longleaf ecosystem healthy. Credit: John Maxwell/USFWS

Forest ecosystems are dynamic and complex. A disturbance to any part of the network can alter the balance of relationships and affect the entire ecosystem either positively or negatively. Fire is unique in that it can be either a beneficial natural process or a devastating catastrophe. For species like lodgepole pine, fire is necessary to help reduce competition and help the species release its seeds. However, climate change, drought and other conditions have caused occurrences of intense wildfire to increase, which can damage forests so badly that it takes years for them to naturally recover. Wildfire is necessary for forests, but also a threat to them, so strong policies and management are imperative to make sure wildfire is working for our forests instead of against them.

Our Strategy

American Forests partners with other organizations to protect the surviving trees on burned lands and to restore forests, educating the public and key decision makers about the importance of these trees. Over the last 10 years, roughly 26 percent of our Global ReLeaf projects have restored forests damaged by fires.

In 2007, ConocoPhillips pledged $2.8 million to fund American Forests’ wildfire restoration project in this area, as part of a carbon offset settlement between the energy company and California Attorney General Jerry Brown. The ongoing Cuyamaca project has laid the groundwork to encourage forest restoration throughout the region.

Credit: The National Guard/ Flickr

Fighting wildfire. Credit: The National Guard

At the federal level, American Forests has long advocated that decision makers in the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior and Congress should address wildfire threats and develop plans and policies for wildfire mitigation and prevention. This resulted in the establishment of the Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act (FLAME Act) Coalition, which supported the passage of the FLAME Act that would allow the federal government to enforce funding for larger emergency wildfires without taking away from other important projects.

Take Action

Visit American Forests’ Action Center to send pre-written letters to Congress and other representatives to support sound wildfire policy. Letters available now include:

donate_editto American Forests to support our work, like wildfire restoration projects and wildfire prevention policy action.


Forest Fire News from our Loose Leaf blog

Policy Update: Fire Suppression Funding Legislation

by American Forests

American Forests, as part of the Partner Caucus on Fire Suppression Funding Solutions, urges Congress to find a lasting solution for wildfire suppression funding.

Currently, wildfire suppression is funded at the 10-year average. When suppression costs exceed the budget, the USDA Forest Service (USFS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) are forced to borrow from other accounts to pay for fire suppression. Eight out of the past 10 ye... (Read More)

Forest Digest — Week of May 11, 2015

by American Forests

The weekend is here, but before you settle in for some R&R, take a look at this Friday’s Forest Digest.

Harvard Forest report: Valuable Mass. ecosystems shrinking — Worcester Telegram
Researchers at Harvard Forest, Harvard University’s laboratory for ecological research, found in a new study that development is causing forest ecosystems across Massachusetts to shrink. The scientis... (Read More)

Forest Digest — Week of May 4, 2015

by American Forests
Firefighters in California expect an above-average wildfire season this summer. Credit: John Newman

The first week of May has been an eventful — and troublesome — one in the world of forests. Take a look in this edition of Forest Digest.

Drought kills 12 million trees in California’s national forests — The Los Angeles Times
Last month, researchers the U.S. Forest Service conducted an aerial survey of more than 8.2 million acres of forest in California and estimated that the drought has... (Read More)