U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Fire Science Brief, Issue 54, June 2009


US government work.


Though fuel specialists, scientists and managers have developed treatment tools to reduce fuel hazards, such as mechanical thinning by removing trees, costs to treat lands at risk can be prohibitively high. Harvesting timber and woody materials that can then be sold reduces costs, but only about 20 to 30 percent. Treatment costs average over $1,000 per acre in some areas. Spending $300 million per year in treating government lands would take over twelve decades to treat all high and moderate risk stands; $900 million per year would reduce this to four decades. Treating only wildland-urban interface areas or high risk stands further reduces this to two to four decades. To stay within acceptable risk conditions, treated stands may have to be retreated. Timber products removed would benefi t timber consumers in the United States, and would harm timber producers on private lands. Effects on the international market for programs under $600 million per year would be negligible.