The Wildland Fire Branch responds to hundreds of fires every year, said Bradley Shoemaker, Wildland Fire Branch chief. He said 2021 was an especially active wildfire season with 187 recorded fires on Air Force property. Those fires burned more than 56,000 acres, a number that could have been much higher without the use of wildfire threat mitigation tools like prescribed burns.
“The (prescribed burn) process applies fire to the landscape and creates resilient ecosystems that can withstand fire while also reducing the intensity of fires that burn in those
areas, making them easier to suppress when we have an unwanted ignition,” he said.
Predicting what the 2022 wildfire season might look like is one of the more difficult aspects of wildland fire management, Shoemaker said, because different ecosystems and rapidly changing conditions can alter the course of the season in a matter of moments. Although the future remains a bit unknown, the chief said off-season burns have put suppression resources including fire and emergency services and his teams in a good place to respond and control whatever the 2022 wildfire season brings. “Prescribed burning is the best tool we have to create sustainable lands while reducing the unavoidable threat of wildfires,” he said.