Prescribed Fire Policy

Policy Opportunities to Increase Prescribed Fire

In 2021, we began organizing a joint university and non-governmental organization steering committee to identify federal policy and governance options to increase the use of prescribed fire. We focus on clarifying prescribed fire policy barriers/opportunities, promoting dialogue among partners to refine policy options, and communicating policy options to decision makers. This work is funded by the Hewlett Foundation.


Online directory of prescribed fire entities in the U.S. intended to provide an easy-to-use reference of non-state and non-federal entities across the U.S. who have the capacity to support prescribed fire implementation, and through whom federal funding may be deployed. Available here.

Practitioner Papers

Greiner, M., Huber-Stearns, H., Schultz, C., Shively, B., and Chen, Y. (2024). Prescribed Fire Planning and Implementation Capacity of Non-governmental Organizations. Summer 2024. Available here.

Briefing Papers

Huber-Stearns, H., Chen, Y., Greiner, M., Schultz, C., and Shively, B. (2023). Investing in Local Prescribed Fire Capacity: Key Findings and Recommendations from a National Survey of Prescribed Fire Implementers. Summer 2023. Available here.

Schultz, C., Bertone-Riggs, T., Brown, S.J., Goulette, N., Greiner, M., Kruse, D., Shively, B., and Smith, M. (2022). Report on May 2022 Workshop on Outcome-Based Performance Measures, Fall 2022. Available here.

Schultz, C., Bertone-Riggs, T., Brown, S.J., Goulette, N., Kruse, D., Smith, M., Greiner, M. (2021). Policy Opportunities to Increase the Use of Prescribed Fire. CSU Public Lands Policy Group, Fall 2021. Prescribed Fire Policy Brief.

Barriers to Prescribed Fire Implementation

My research group investigates a variety of topics related to the governance context around fire management, including policy barriers and opportunities to increase application of prescribed fire.  In 2016, we began work on several projects funded by the Joint Fire Science Program (see our products below and final JFSP project report here). We investigated the policies that promote and constrain prescribed fire on federal lands and identify opportunities to change existing policy to allow for increased application of prescribed fire. Additionally, with Forest Service research scientists Matt Thompson and Sarah McCaffrey, we wrote several papers focused on institutional variables that affect the current state of fire management in the United States.


Journal Articles

Huber-Stearns, H.R., Santo, A.R., Schultz, C.A., and McCaffrey, S.M. 2021. Network governance in the use of prescribed fire: roles for bridging organizations and other actors in the Western United States. Regional Environmental Change 21(118): 1-17. Available at:

Schultz, C.A., Moseley, C. 2019. Collaborations and capacities to transform US fire management. Science 366 (6461): 38-40; doi: 10.1126/science.aay3727   Full text available here

Schultz, C.A., McCaffrey, S., Huber-Stearns, H. 2019. Policy barriers and opportunities for prescribed fire application in the Western United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire 28, 874-884. Available at:

Schultz, C.A.,P. Thompson, S. McCaffrey. 2019. Forest Service fire management and the elusiveness of change. Fire Ecology 15, 13. Available at:


Practitioner Papers

Schultz, C.A., Santo, A., Huber-Stearns, H., and McCaffrey, S. 2020. Strategies for Increasing Prescribed Fire Application on Federal Lands: Lessons from Case Studies in the U.S. West. CSU Public Lands Policy Group Practitioner Paper 6/Ecosystem Workforce Program Working Paper 99. Fall 2020. PLPG Practitioner Paper #6 / EWP Working Paper #99 

Legal Appendix to Working Paper #86: This appendix provides additional detail from our legal research on air quality law and policy. It includes an overview of the federal Clean Air Act, followed by details for each of the 11 western states in our study.

Schultz, C., Huber-Stearns, H., McCaffrey, S., Quirke, D., Ricco, G., and Moseley, C. (2018). Prescribed Fire Policy Barriers and Opportunities: A Diversity of Challenges and Strategies Across the West. CSU Public Lands Policy Group Practitioner Paper 2, Summer 2018. PLPG Practitioner Paper #2


Briefing Papers

Schultz, C., Huber-Stearns, H., McCaffrey, S., Quirke, D., Ricco, G. (2017). Policy Barriers to Implementing Prescribed Fire. CSU Public Lands Policy Group Briefing Paper 1, Fall 2017. PLPG Briefing Paper #1



Prefer to listen? View some of the results from this project in these two webinars:

Prescribed Fire Outreach & Engagement

We recently conducted a case study evaluating prescribed fire outreach strategies in Northern Colorado. We interviewed both fire managers and community members to understand their perspectives on strategies used.


McGrath Novak, K., McCaffrey, S., and Schultz, C.A. 2022. Comparing land manager and community perceptions of a Colorado prescribed fire outreach program. Journal of Forestry, 1-10. DOI: 10.1093/jofore/fvac026. Available here.

McGrath Novak, K., Schultz, C.A., and McCaffrey, S. 2020. Design, implementation, and evaluations of prescribed fire outreach on the Colorado Front Range. CSU Public Lands Policy Group Practitioner Paper 9. Winter 2020. PLPG Practitioner Paper #9

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