oversight

Federal Lands: Information About Land Management Agencies' Wildfire Preparedness Activities

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-12-18.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

        United States
GA!!0   General Accounting Office
        Washington, D.C. 20548                                    -          j S-9      6s5?
        Resources, Community,   and
        Economic Development    Division
                                                                 .-




        B-278756


        December 18, 1997


        The Honorable Don Young
        Chairman, Committee on Resources
        House of Representatives

        The Honorable Helen Chenoweth
        Chairman, Subcommittee on Forests
         and Forest Health
        Committee on Resources
        House of Representatives

        Subject:    Federal Lands: Information About Land Management Agencies’
                    Wildfire Preparedness Activities

        Each year, wildtires on federal lands consume millions of acres of forests.
        Because wildfire preparedness activities can have a tremendous effect on the
        number and severity of wildfires, you asked about these activities at five federal
        land management agencies: the Forest Service within the Department of
        Agriculture and the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the
        Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Fish and Wildlife Service within the
        Department of the Interior. Specifically, this report provides information on (1)
        the amount of money the land management agencies expended on federal
        wildtire preparedness activities during fiscal years 1992 through 1996; (2) the
        amount that the federal agencies expended for state and local wik&e
        preparedness activities; (3) the amount of equipment and personnel the federal
        agencies loaned to state and local entities for wildfire preparedness activities;
        and (4) the process the federal agencies used to formulate budget requests for
        wildfire preparedness activities.

        Wildfire preparedness involves the land management agencies’ capabilities to
        provide safe, cost-effective fire management programs through training,
        planning, staffing, and providing equipment. Preparedness also includes
        programs to reduce hazardous fuels (flammable materials on the forest floor,
        such as fallen trees zmd dry underbrush). Wild&e preparedness activities

                                              GAO/NED-9%48R    Wildfire   Preparedness Activities
B-278756
require hiring and training personnel, purchasing and contractjng for equipment
and supplies, and preventing situations that may lead to-wild&-es. In short,
these activities are ones undertaken before the actual outset of a wildfire.

In summary, during fiscal years 1992 through 1996, the federal land management
agencies (1) expended about $1.9 billion on wildfire preparedness activities;
(2) provided about $82.3 miltion in grants to state and local firefighting
organizations; (3) loaned states federal excess property valued at about $651
million; and (4) used a computerized model based on historical w-ildfire costs to
formulate budget requests for wildfire preparedness activities. Detailed
information on these activities is presented in enclosures I through IV.

The information presented was provided to us by the land management
agencies for fiscal years 1992 through 1996. As agreed with your offices, we
obtained financial data for the most recent 5-year period possible. During our
work, fiscal year 1997 data were unavailable.



We performed our work from July through November 1997 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards. In order to respond to your
request, we obtained financial and other data from the headquarters office of
the Forest Service and from the Department of the Interior’s National
Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.’ The financial information that we
obtained from the Interior agencies was national in scope, while the data
provided by the Forest Service were for individual field units. We did not
contact individual field offices about the financial data, but we did contact
several Forest Service regional offices to obtain information about their
cooperative state grant programs. We did not independently verify the accuracy
of the data we gathered.

We provided copies of a draft of this report to the Department of the Interior,
the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Bureau of
lndian Affairs, the Fish and Wildhfe Service, and the Forest Service. Interior
and its agencies concurred with the factual content and provided technical
clarifications, which we incorporated into the report. The Forest Service did
not have any comments on the draft report.

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretaries of Agriculture and the
Interior as well as to the Chief of the Forest Service and the Directors of the
Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs,


 ‘The Bureau of Land Management maintains and operates the National
 Interagency Fire Center in cooperation with the Forest Service and the other
 Department of the Interior agencies. The day-to-day fire management activities
 of the Interior agencies are conducted from the Center.
 2                                     GAOIRCED-98-48R Wddfire Preparedness Activities
B-278756                                                _
and Fish and Wildlife Service. We will make copies available to other
interested parties upon request. Major contributors to this report were Linda
Harmon and John Kahnar, Jr. Please call me on (206) 2874810 if you or your
staff have any questions.




    and Science Issues

Enclosures - 4




3                                    GAOIRCED-9848R   Wildfire Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE I                                                               -              ENCLOSTJREI
   AMOUNT OF FUNDS EXPENDED BY THE LAND MANAGEMENT AGENCIES ON
             FEDERAL WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS ACTIVITIES

   Table I.1 shows, for each of the land management agencies, by fiscal year, their total
expenditures on federal wildfire preparedness activities. Table I.2 shows, by specitic
category, what activities were funded by the land management agencies. Tables I.3
through I.9 show how much the agencies expended by category, by fiscal year.

Table 1.1: Land Management Aaencies’ Wildfire Preparedness Expenditures. Fiscal Years 1992
Through 1996

Dollars in thousands

                                               Fiscal year

 Agency                    1992        1993          1994        1995             1996     5-year total

  Forest Service       $188,525    $247,678    $260,200      $287,018    $287,906         $1,271,327
  Bureau of
  Land
  Management             65,305      68,707       61,493       66,998         66,880         329,383
  National Park
  Service                13,927      15,427       15,344       13,559         19,465           77,722
  Bureau of
  Indian Affairs         25,317      24,230       25,112       24,133         25,704         124,496
  Fish and
  Wildlife
  Service                12,554      15,244       14,242       13,745         15,320           71,105

  Total”                $305,628    $371,286     $376,391     $405,453        $415,275      $1,874,033

“These totals do not include about $82 million in grants to states for wildfire preparedness
activities, which are discussed in enclosure II.




                                                       GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire    Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE I                                                                       _           ENCLOSURE I
Table 1.2: Land Manaqement Aaencies’ Wildfire Preparedness Expenditures. bv Cateaory. Fiscal
Years 1992 Throuah 1996

Dollars in thousands

                                                       Fiscal year
 Expenditure
 category                      1992          1993            1994          1995            1996       5-year total
  Personnel costs          $168,518      $218,180      $225,104       $240,232        $250,674       $1,102,708
 Travel                       9,309        10,872         10,827        12,954           10,347          54,309
 Transportation               5,052         4,832          5,125         5,314            4,651          24,974
 Rent,
 communications,
 and utilities               10,172        11,324         13,434        13,443           15,326           63,699
 Services,
 supplies, and
 printing                    87,608       103,211         96,127       106,709          108,703         502,358
 Equipment, land,
 and structures              19,086        17,464         17,242        19,412           18,549          91,753
 Grants and
 claimsa                      3,097         2,809          2,440         3,160            4,216           15,722
 Other”                       2,786         2,594          6,092         4,229            2,809           18,510
 Total                 1    $305,628 1    $371,286 1     $376,391 1    $405,453 1       $415,275 1     $1,874,033

aThese totals do not include about $82 million in grants to states for wildfire preparedness
activities, which are discussed in enclosure II.

bThe Forest Service had expenditures that were not reported to us by the Department of the
Interior agencies. These included, among other things, contracts, loans/investments, refunds, and
internal transactions. Of these expenditures, internal transactions were the largest single category
and represent inter-office expenditures for any type of preparedness expenditure. Together, these
expenditures represent only about 1 percent of the Forest Service’s total annual expenditures for
preparedness, except for fiscal year 1994 when they represented about 2 percent. Because
these preparedness expenditures were relatively small in nature compared to the total, we
combined them for reporting purposes.




                                                           GAOLRCED-984R     Wildiire    Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE1                                                                  _            ENCLOSURE1
Table 1.3: Land Manaaement Aaencies’ Wildfire Preparedness Exoenditures for Personnel Costs,
Fiscal Years 1992 Throuah 1996

Dollars in thousands


                                              Fiscal year
 Agency                  1992         1993          1994          1995            1996     5-year total

 Forest
 Service           $109,361       $152,554    $158,152       $171,806      $179,138         $771 ,011
  Bureau of
  Land
  Management           35,386       40,107       40,252        40,956           42,329        199,030
  Bureau of
  Indian Affairs       10,099       10,266       10,776        10,683           10,465         52,289
  Fish and
  Wildlife
  Service               6,052        7,034        7,170          7,337           7,973         35,566
  National
  Park Service          7,620        8,219        8,754          9,450          10,769         44,812
  Total                $168,518    $218,180     $225,104       $240,232      $250,674        $1,102,708

Note: Personnel expenditures include salary and benefit costs for full-time employees and salary
costs for part-time employees.




                                                         GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire   Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE I                                                               _         ENCLOSUFtE I
Table 1.4: Land Manaaement Aaencies’ Wildfire Preoaredness Exoenditures for Travel, Fiscal
Years 1992 Throuah 1996

Dollars in thousands


                                              Fiscal year
 Agency                  1992          1993          1994          1995           1996        5-year total

 Forest
 Service               $6,317       $7,017        $7,222        $8,981         $6,792           $36,329
 Bureau of
 Land
 Management             1,383         1,714        1,490          1,890         1,406              7,883
 Bureau of
 Indian Affairs          618           414           465           492            433              2,422
 Fish and
 Wildlife
 Service                 558           636            670          619            572              2,995
 National
 Park Service            433          1,091         1,040          972          1,144              4,680
 Total                  $9,309      $10,872       $10,827       $12,954        $10,347            $54,309

Note: Travel includes the costs incurred while persons are on travel status, such as per diem,
cost of transportation, lodging, and rental vehicles.




                                                    GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE I                                                             _           ENCLOSURE I
Table 1.5: Land Manaaement Aaencies’ Wildfire Preoaredness Exoenditures for Transuortation
Costs. Fiscal Years 1992 Throuah 1996

Dollars in thousands


                                             Fiscal year
 Agency                  1992        1993          1994          1995            1996        5-year total

 Forest
 Service               $1,440     $1,533        $1,740        $2,090        $1,772               $8,575
  Bureau of
  Land
  Management            1,809       1,868         1,842        1,759            1,340             8,618
  Bureau of
  Indian Affairs        1,344        934          1,085          925             852              5,140
  Fish and
  Wildlife
  Service                  79          85            94           145            207                 610
     National
     Park Service         380        412            364          395             480              2,031
  Total                 $5,052      $4,832        $5,125       $5,314           $4,651           $24,974

Note: Transportation of things includes the rental of commercial vehicles, parcel post costs, and
transportation of household goods for a change of duty station.




                                                                                                            :



 8                                                   GAOLRCED-98-48R Wildfire   Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSUFtE I                                                                              ENCLOSURE I
Table 1.6: Land Manaaement Aaencies’ Wildfire Preoaredness Expenditures for Rents,
Communications, and Utilities, Fiscal Years 1992 Throuah 1996     ._ _

Dollars in thousands


                     I                       Fiscal year
    Agency                 1992      1993         1994         1995                1996       5-year total

    Forest
    Service              $8,086    $9,222     $11,697      $11,719         $13,644              $54,368
    Bureau of
    Land
    Management            1,626     1,652       1,294         1,324               1,257            7,153
    Bureau of
    Indian Affairs         293       238          261           197                216             1,205
    Fish and
    Wildlife
    Service                  77       124           88         129                 122               540
    National
    Park Service             90        88           94           74                 87               433
    Total                $10,172   $11,324     $13,434       $13,443         $15,326              $63,699

Note: Included in rent, communications, and utilities are charges for rent paid to the General
Services Administration or commercial real estate operators, charges for telephones and other
communication services, postage, computer and copier equipment rental, and utility charges.




9                                                    GAO/WED-98-48R    Wildfire    Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE I                                                             -         ENCLOSURE I
Table 1.7: Land Manaaement Aaencies’ Wildfire Preoaredness Exoenditures for Services,
Suoolies. and Printina. Fiscal Years 1992 Throuah 1996            ._

Dollars in thousands


                                             Fiscal year
  Agency                 1992       1993         1994           1995             1996         5-year total
  Forest
  Service          $54,072       $67,387     $66,203        $75,330         $73,841            $336,833
  Bureau of
  Land
  Management           20,039     20,080      13,865         18,909           18,441              91,334
  Bureau of
  Indian Affairs        6,986      7,638        8,647          7,568           9,075              40,114
  Fish and
  Wildlife
  Service               2,620      4,063        4,108          3,453           3,886              18,130
  National
  Park Service          3,891      4,043        3,104          1,449            3,460             15,947
  Total                $87,608   $103,211      $96,127       $106,709        $108,703            $502,358
Note: Services, supplies, and printing include expenditures for, among other things, maintenance
contracts on equipment; various contracts for airplanes and helicopters, personal services, and
research; office supplies; fuel for vehicles, aircraft, and boats; and commercial printing and
reproduction.




 10                                                 GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE I                                                             _          ENCLOSURE I

Table 1.8: Land Manaaement Aaencies’ Wildfire PreParedness Expenditures for Eauipment, Land,
and Structures. Fiscal Years 1992 Throuah 1996

Dollars in thousands

                                               Fiscal year                                                       I

 Agency                  1992          1993           1994          1995            1996        5-year total
 Forest
 Service               $6,181       $6,986         $8,473       $12,570          $9,541               $43,751
 Bureau of
 Land
 Management             5,028         3,226          2,692         2,150          2,098                15,194
 Bureau of
 Indian Affairs         3,199         2,545          2,218         1,662          1,201                10,825
 Fish and
 Wildlife
 Service                3,165         3,133          1,876         1,880          2,347                12,401
 National
 Park Service           1,513         1,574          1,983         1,150          3,362                 9,582
 Total                 $19,086       $17,464        $17,242      $19,412         $18,549               $91,753

Note: Equipment, land, and structure expenditures include capitalized and noncapitalized
equipment; easements; and buildings and other structures, such as roads.




11                                                 GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE I                                                              _           ENCLOSURE I
Table 1.9: Land Manaaement Aaencies’ Wildfire Preoaredness Expenditures for Grants and
Claims. Fiscal Years 1992 Throuah 1996

Dollars in thousands


                                                 Fiscal year
  Agency                 1992            1993            1994          1995             1996     S-year total

  Forest
  Service               $281            $385            $622          $294             $372          $1,954
  Bureau of
  Land
  Management               34              60              58            11                 8              171
  Bureau of
  Indian Affairs        2,778           2,195          1,460          2,606            3,462         12,501
  Fish and
  Wildlife
  Service                   3             169            296            181              212               861
  National
  Park Service              1               0                  4         68              162               235
  Totala                $3,097          $2,809         $2,440         $3,160           $4,216         $15,722

Note: Grants and claims expenditures would include cooperative agreements and insurance
claims.

aThese totals do not include about $82 million in grants to states, which are discussed in
enclosure II.




 12                                                   GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire   Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE II                                                                _        ENCLOSURE II
LAND MANAGEMENT AGENCIES’ EXPENDIT-URES FOR STATE AND LOCAL WILDFIRE
                     PREPAREDNESS ACTIVITIES     ._ _

   The Forest Service has two grant programs with states to provide funds for wildfire
preparedness activities-Rural Fire Prevention and Control and Rural Community Fire
Protection. The Department of the Interior agencies do not have a grant program similar
to the Forest Service’s but rely on nonreimbursable cooperative agreements between the
agencies and the state and local governments for preparedness activities. Table II.1
provides information on the funding for state and local wildfire preparedness activities.

Table II.1 : State and Local Wildfire Preparedness Expenditures. by Aaencv. Fiscal Years 1992
Through 1996

Dollars in thousands


                                                Fiscal year
 Agency                   1992          1993            1994          1995          1996      B-yeartotal
 Bureau of Land
 Management”           $2,798         $1,001         $2,400        $2,772         $3,112         $12,083
 Fish and
 Wildlife
 Service                  271            223            232           192             67                985
 Forest
 Service
 Rural Fire
 Prevention and
 Control               11,337         11,307         10,960         8,001         11,747          53,352
 Rural
 Community
 Fire Protection        3,500          3,500          3,500         3,400          2,000          15,900
 Total                 $17,906        $16,031        $17,092       $14,365        $16,926         $82,320

aAlf costs are related to an agreement between the Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon
Department of Forestry for the Oregon and California Grant Lands. Alaska, Idaho, and Montana have
preparedness agreements where the Bureau of Land Management provides the service for $350,00O/year,
$17,00O/year, and $5,00O/year, respectively.




13                                                   GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE II                                                                   ENCLOSURE II
   Neither the Forest Service nor the Interior agencies has preparedness contracts with
the states (except as noted in table II.1). Instead, the agencies use- grants and
nonreimbursable cooperative agreements.

   The activities covered by these grants and cooperative agreements include fire
prevention, environmental education, training, and developing operational procedures for
fighting fires; the agencies do not charge one another for these services. Federal and
state tie agencies also work cooperatively through the Wildfire Coordinating Group’ to
establish common standards on a wide variety of elements, such as position
qualifications, training, incident command system, dispatching, equipment,
communications, fire behavior predictions, fire weather forecast, and operational
procedures.

   In many parts of the cormtry, federal, state, and local agencies with fire protection
responsibilities have worked with the other agencies to determine the most effective mix
of protection resources to meet their workload at the least cost. The agencies ba3ance
workloads and costs by exchanging protection responsibilities on the basis of the closest
forces and optimum mixes of equipment and skills.

    The federal land management agencies do not pay for the training of state and local
firefighters. Rather, the federal agencies have established trajning committees that
include state fire personnel. These committees schedule and present training courses in
which each state receives a share of the training slots. State personnel may attend the
national courses, but the states must bear the full cost of the participants’ attendance. In
the case of the Forest Service, state and local agencies use some of their grant moneys
for training course participation.

The Forest Service’s Grant Programs

  The Forest Service administers the Rural Fire Prevention and Control and the Rural
Community Fire Protection grant programs. The two programs are authorized by the
Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978.2 Rural F’ire Prevention and Control funds
are appropriated to the Forest Service, and Rural Community Fire Protection funds are
appropriated to the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service, which passes


The Wildfire Coordinating Group consists of representatives from each of the federal
land management agencies and state foresters.

 2The Rural Community F’ire Protection program was originally authorized by the Rural
 Development Act of 1972. The Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 repealed this
 provision of the 1972 act and authorized the Rural Community Fire Protection program
 under the 1978 act.
 14                                               GAOLRCED-984R   Wildfire Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE II                                                         _          ENCLOSURE II

them through to the Forest Service. Both grant programs are matching programs; that is,
the entities receiving the grants must match them in dollar amounts or in-kind
contributions. The Forest Service’s Fire and Aviation Management staf? allocates the
grant funds to the states through a formula that considers factors such as state acreage
and acreage to be protected. The states are responsible for monitoring the grant
recipients and for sending reports to the Forest Service concerning what has been
accomplished under the grants.

   Both the Rural Fire Prevention and Control and the Rural Communiiy Fire Protection
grant moneys were used to enhance state and local firefighting capabilities. For example,
Idaho received $250,400 in Rural Fire Prevention and Control grants in fiscal year 1996 to
prepare, among other things, a statewide fire report and fund dispatchers at two dispatch
centers and the state’s portion of the cost of a jire retardant aircraft. Similarly, Georgia
received $405,502 in Rural Fire Prevention and Control grants that were used for, among
other things, updating state, district, and county strategic fire plans; providing smoke
management training to ensure that prescribed burning can continue; and training and
equipping Georgia Forestry Commission personnel.

  In fiscal year 1996, Idaho received $23,500 in Rural Community Fire Protection grants.
The state used these moneys for, among other things, providing personal protective fire
safety equipment to fire districts and training personnel in structural and wildland fire
control techniques. Likewise, Georgia received $22,954 in Rural Community Fire
Protection grants to, among other things, conduct 10 Wildland/Urban Interface Fire
courses and provide a Rural Fire Protection Basic course to at least 14 local fire
departments.




15                                              GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE IIt                                                               _          ENCLOSURE III
  AMOUNT AND TYPES OF EQUIPMENT LOANED TO STATE AND LOCAL ENTITLE’S
                     FOR WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS ._ .

    Neither the Forest Service nor the Department of the Interior agencies loan personnel
to state or local governments. The Forest Service, however, manages the Federal Excess
Personal Property program,3 which loans excess federal property to state and local
firefighters. Under this program administered by state foresters, excess federal property
(generally from the Department of Defense) that can be used directly in lirefighting or
converted to firefighting use may be loaned to states. The types of loaned excess
property range from shovels to helicopters; most are trucks that can be readily converted
to tankers or pumpers. Other common items loaned include generators, pumps, fire
hoses, breathing apparatus, and personal protective clothing.

  During fiscal years 1992 through 1996, the Forest Service loaned excess federal
personal property valued at about $651 million to states for use in wildfire preparedness
activities. Table III.1 shows, by year, the total value of the excess federal property loaned
by the Forest Service to the states.

Table lll.1: Value of Excess Federal Prooerty the Forest Service Loaned to States, Fiscal Years
1992 Throuah 1996

Dollars in thousands

                                      Fiscal year
                                                                                             5-year total
              1992             1993                 1994           1995             1996
          $79,449        $123,362           $112,129           $189,672         $146,083       $650,695

   According to a Forest Service official, the states have “screeners” who examine lists of
excess property published by the General Services Administration for property they may
want to acquire. Often, the screeners are working with lists of desired equipment
provided to them by local fire departments. When the states ident@ excess property
they want to borrow, the Forest Service acquires it. Title to the equipment passes from
the origina owning organization to, and remains with, the Forest Service; the states
cannot sell the excess property. The states are responsible for removing the excess
property, refurbishing it, and keeping track of its location. When a state no longer needs



3The Federal Excess Personal Property program is authorized by section 203 of the
Department of Agriculture Organic Act of 1944, the Federal Property and Administrative
Services Act of 1949, and section 10 of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978.

 16                                                        GAO/RCED-984R   Wildfire Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE III                                                                  ENCLOSURE III
the loaned excess property, it is returned to the Forest Service for disposal or re-loaned
to another state.                                                  ._ -

   According to the Forest Service, most of the excess property loaned to the states is in
poor condition and requires extensive rehabilitation to convert it into tiefighting
equipment. However, the states may use some of their Rural Fire Prevention and Control
or Rural Community Fire Protection grant moneys to rehabilitate the loaned excess
property. The cost of conversion is much less than the purchase of comparable
equipment.

   The loaned excess property may become important firefighting tools for local fire
departments. For example, in November 1994 Wyoming state fire personnel transported
from the Tooele Army Depot near Salt Lake City, Utah, 31 excess 2-l/2-ton trucks and two
air compressors. Within weeks, one local fire department was able to use one of the
excess trucks that had been converted into a l,OOO-gallonwildland firefighting engine.

   Wyoming officials estimate that by participating in the Federal Excess Personal
Property program and rebuilding the excess property, they can save fcom 50 to 70 percent
of the cost of new, commercial engines. For example, one Wyoming county built a
compressed air foam system on one of the excess military trucks at a cost of $58,000;
purchasing a commercial engine would have cost between $175,000 and $200,000.




17                                              GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire   Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE IV                                                         _         ENCLOSURE IV
     THE PROCESS USED BY THE LAND MANAGEMENT AGENCIES TO FORMULATE
           BUDGET REQUESTS FOR WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESSACTIVITIES

   The land management agencies use Fire Management Plans to prepare annual wildfire
budget requests. Fire Management Plans incorporate computerized analytical tools, such
as Initial Attack Analyses, FIREPRO, and the National Fire Management Analysis System.
Wildfire preparedness activities are one component of the analysis tools. These amdytical
tools are used in developing annual budget requests for wildfire preparedness activities.
The National Fire Management Analysis System was originally developed by the Forest
Service in response to a 1978 congressional directive that the Forest Service conduct an
economic benefit-cost analysis of its fire program and use that process to support aIll
future national fire budget requests. The Forest Service implemented the National Fire
Management Analysis System in 1980, and it has also been adopted by the Bureau of Land
Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Similarly, the National Park Service began
the development of a fire management analysis system titled FIREPRO in 1982. The Fish
and Wildlife Service adopted a modified version of FIREPRO in 1993.

     F’ire Management Plans

- provide a formal method to integrate fire program and land management planning,

- establish a consistent procedure to evaluate the probable effectiveness and efficiency
  of tie programs, and
-    estimate the probable consequences of alternative fire programs and budgets at the
     local, regional, and national levels.

   The total cost of fighting wildfires on federal lands is the sum of preparedness
activities, fuels management, rehabilitation, and suppression expenditures, plus the
changes in values to resources, either positive or negative, that result from wildfjres.
Using lo-year historical data on costs, weather, and actual fire conditions, Fire
Management Plans identify the most ecomonically efficient fire protection program; the
level which results in the least total costs (cost of preparedness, suppression, and
economic losses).

   Each individual land management unit (national forest, self-governing Native American
tribe) performs analyses using its Fire Management Plans to determine its most efficient
program level, including preparedness costs. Individual unit’s estimates are aggregated
into national totals, and the preparedness totals form the basis for the budget estimate
that is sent to the Congress. The Congress appropriates the preparedness funds and the



    18                                            GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire Preparedness Activities
ENCLOSURE IV                                                         _         ENCLOSURE IV
Department distributes them to the agencies on the basis of their proportion of the total
estimate.                                                         ._




(141083)

19                                              GAO/RCED-98-48R Wildfire Preparedness Activities
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