The Forest Service has broad responsibilities in the management of wildland fire, ranging from immediate suppression to the lighting of controlled fires to safely restore fire-adapted ecosystems. In managing wildfire, the Forest Service’s clear mission includes protection of landscapes, resources, and people. Regard for human safety and the management of risk guide all fire management decisions and actions. On every fire, firefighter and public safety are the highest priorities.
Aerially-applied fire retardant and other fire chemicals reduces wildfire intensity and rate of spread, decreasing risks to firefighters, enabling them to construct fireline safely. In many situations, the use of retardant in concert with firefighters on the ground allows the Forest Service to safely meet its responsibilities to protect landscapes, resources, and people.
Record of Decision (ROD) (Word Document)
Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)
USFWS Biological Opinion
NOAA Biological Opinion
In October 2007, the Forest Service issued an environmental assessment (EA) and decision notice and finding of no significant impact (DN/FONSI) entitled "Aerial Application of Fire Retardant". In February 2008, the Forest Service amended the DN/FONSI by incorporating the reasonable and prudent alternatives proposed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries during the Section 7 consultation process prescribed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). (Environmental Assessment Historic files).
On July 27, 2010, the United States District Court for the District of Montana issued a decision that invalidated the Forest Service's decision to adopt the Guidelines for Aerial Delivery of Retardant or Foam Near Waterways". The 2000 Guidelines were developed to provide guidance to try to minimize the impact of aerially-delivered fire retardant on aquatic life and habitat. The Court directed the Forest Service, USFWS, and NOAA Fisheries to cure NEPA and ESA violations and for the Forest Service to issue a new decision.
The Forest Service released a Record of Decision (ROD) for the continued nationwide aerial application of fire retardant on National Forest System lands. The issuance of the ROD along with the completion of section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act, completes this effort. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is also available for viewing. In response to the ROD, the Interagency Policy for Aerial and Ground Delivery of Wildland Fire Chemicals Near Waterways and Other Avoidance areas was revised from the 2000 and 2009 Guidelines, a new reporting tool was developed and an Implementation Guide for the Forest Service was completed.