Interagency Wildland Fire Chemicals Policy and Guidance

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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.

What's New:

  • Webinar: Aerial Fire Retardant, The Forest Service and You: Fire Operations Resource Advisors and Managing for ESA Species - May 2017

Nationwide Aerial Application of Fire Retardant on National Forest System Lands

Background Information:

In October 2007, the U.S. 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 U.S. Forest Service amended the DN/FONSI by incorporating the reasonable and prudent alternatives proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries during the Section 7 consultation process prescribed by the Endangered Species Act.

In response to these activities, on July 27, 2010, the United States District Court for the District of Montana issued a decision that invalidated the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to adopt the “Guidelines for Aerial Delivery of Retardant or Foam Near Waterways.”

These historical documents are located here.

In 2011, the U.S. Forest Service released a Record of Decision (ROD) and an Environmental Impact Statement

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 noted above, a new reporting tool was developed and an Implementation Guide for the U.S. Forest Service was completed.