Federal Fire Management:

Evaluation of Changes Made After Yellowstone

T-RCED-90-84: Published: May 24, 1990. Publicly Released: May 24, 1990.

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GAO discussed the federal government's fire program for parks and wilderness areas, focusing on program changes resulting from the 1988 fires in Yellowstone National Park. GAO noted in a video presentation that the prescribed program has been reaffirmed as a valuable tool in the management of the nation's parks and wilderness areas. GAO found that: (1) the management of the prescribed fire program may not be as well controlled as an interagency task force envisioned or the public has been led to expect; (2) there are no changes in how a prescribed natural fire is to be fought if declared wild; and (3) coordination of fire-fighting efforts continues to be a problem. GAO believes that: (1) several factors may constrain implementation of the program; (2) monies specifically allocated to the prescribed fire program are less than what many Park Service and Forest Service managers say they need; (3) regardless of funding availability, some managers still subscribe to the old philosophy of suppressing all fires; (4) the government may still lack the organizational structure essential to respond to national fire emergencies; and (5) increases in funding and fire-fighting resources, as well as changes in attitudes, are necessary to realize the program's full potential.

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