U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Fire Science Brief, Issue 129, March 2011


US government work.


Most public lands include not only natural resource values, but also signifi cant cultural resources from both historic and prehistoric occupation. In some cases, the cultural resources are the reason for establishment of a park or monument. Responsibilities of the managers of these lands include protecting these cultural resources and balancing their protection with protection of the natural resources. This is essential to having a good understanding of the potential effect of fire— whether a prescribed fire or a wildfire—on the cultural resources. A recent scientifi c project funded by the Joint Fire Science Program studied the potential impact of wildland fire on near-surface archeological resources at six diverse sites within the Midwest Region of the National Park Service (NPS). Information was collected on fire conditions in prescribed fires on these sites. Data was collected on the impacts of fire on multiple classes of archeological materials routinely observed on sites within this region. Research encompassed different regional environments and different resource types. It is believed that by having this information, park managers will be able to more effectively balance the needs of natural and archeological resources.