Fire Management:

Lessons Learned From the Cerro Grande (Los Alamos) Fire and Actions Needed to Reduce Fire Risks

T-RCED-00-273: Published: Aug 14, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 14, 2000.

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James E. Wells, Jr
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Office of Public Affairs
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the circumstances surrounding the Los Alamos wildfire, focusing on: (1) the events leading up to the prescribed fire and how it was managed; and (2) what fire management policies or practices need to be improved.

GAO noted that: (1) the Cerro Grande fire exposed policy implementation issues that need to be addressed for managing prescribed fires; (2) most of the issues involved procedural gaps or a lack of clarity about how policies are to be implemented; (3) these issues affected both the planning and implementation of the burn; (4) some of the issues are specific to Bandelier National Monument and the National Park Service; (5) however, others involve other federal agencies; and (6) those problems that are not site--or agency--specific raise questions about the readiness of the federal land management agencies to effectively support and administer prescribed burns as a forest management tool.

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