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

Five years later, new report outlines successes and
challenges of CFLR program

by American Forests
CFLR Project Map

Deanne Buckman, Policy Intern

I think it is safe to say that, to some degree, all Americans utilize the invaluable resource that is the forest. Forests impact many aspects of life including filtering the water we drink, absorbing carbon emissions that would otherwise contribute to global warming, and providing space for a variety of other recreational and economic activities. However, the more we take from the forest, t... (Read More)

Home sweet home: sugar pine restoration in Tahoe

by American Forests
Local school children are given a chance to go outside and help plant trees that will help restore the ecosystem that has been plagued by disease and wildfires. Photo Credit: Sugar Pine Foundation

By Sydney Mucha, Communications Intern

Tahoe National Forest is home to one of California’s most complex and diverse ecosystems. The forest encompasses snow-capped mountains, winding rivers and densely packed tree stands, enough to make anyone stand in awe of the area’s beauty. The forest is especially known for its massive stands of sugar pine, which is the largest species of pine in the world. The species dots the... (Read More)

Farm Bill’s Stewardship Contracting

by American Forests
Stewardship program in an Arizona National Forest

By John-Miguel Dalbey

American Forests, along with many of our forestry partners, is extremely pleased with the permanent authorization of this important tool that allows the Forest Service and BLM to increase restoration efforts on their lands. Chris Topik, director of the Restoring America’s Forests program under The Nature Conservancy, stated that “by providing permanent stewardship contracting authorit... (Read More)