Over the past two decades, the number of acres burned by wildland fires has increased, often threatening human lives, property, and ecosystems. The cost of responding to wildland fires has also grown, especially as more homes are built in or near wildlands, an area called the wildland-urban interface. Past management practices, including a concerted federal policy in the 20th century of suppressing fires to protect communities and ecosystems, unintentionally resulted in steady accumulation of dense vegetation that can fuel large, intense, and often costly wildland fires. GAO was asked to identify actions that federal wildland fire agencies need to take to help contain federal wildland fire expenditures. GAO has identified these actions in three of its reports addressing fuel reduction and cost-sharing efforts and as part of an ongoing review of federal agencies' efforts to contain wildland fire preparedness and suppression costs for this committee. Specifically, GAO focused on examining agencies' efforts to (1) reduce accumulated fuels and address wildland fire problems, (2) share with nonfederal entities the costs of responding to multijurisdictional fires, and (3) contain the costs of preparing for and responding to wildland fires.
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