Fire & Wilderness
Fuel Treatments & Effects
Several strategies are available for reducing accumulated forest fuels and their associated risks, including naturally or accidentally ignited wildland fires, management ignited prescribed fires, and a variety of mechanical and chemical methods (Omi 1996). However, a combination of policy, law, philosophy, and logistics suggest there is a more limited set of fuels management activities that are appropriate in wilderness (Bryan 1997; Parsons and Landres 1998; Nickas 1998). Naturally ignited wildland fires is the commonly preferred fuels management strategy in wilderness (Miller 2003), with management-ignited prescribed fire being considered in some cases (Landres et al. 2000). Restoring the ecological role of fire to wilderness has proven difficult, as the majority of lightning-caused ignitions in wilderness are suppressed for myriad biophysical and social reasons (Morton et al. this issue; Miller and Landres 2004; Parsons and Landres 1998). This article discusses fire management options currently available to managers of wilderness in the United States and speculates how these might change with nationally and globally important influences.