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National Fire Plan Success Story

North Lake Arrowhead Fuels Reduction Project
San Bernardino National Forest, California
National Fire Plan - Fuels Reduction - 2003

  • The North Lake Arrowhead Fuels Reduction Project was initiated in late August, 2003 and involved thinning insect-killed trees and cutting and piling brush. There were no appeals or challenges to the project, but strong public support for this effort, which was planned using a categorical exclusion. The community was eager to manage the dead and dying trees surrounding the community to reduce fire risk.
  • The project was consistent with the strategy in Lake Arrowhead's Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). The neighboring communities have overlapping CWPP's developed by Fire Safe Councils and public participation.
  • The project was in progress when the 2003 Old Fire occurred and proved to be a valuable point from which firefighters could anchor fire line and conduct firing operations.
  • As the fire flanked the unit during a major push to the north, a finger of the fire established itself on a slope and followed the terrain uphill toward the west and numerous expensive homes in a subdivision north of Lake Arrowhead.
  • Fingers of fire did spot into the project area, but were knocked down quickly by the rapid action of numerous firefighters. Because of the reduced fire intensity, with flame lengths observed at 2 to 3 feet, firefighters could safely attack the fire directly, preventing the fire from entering the subdivision.
  • Approximately 3000 adjacent homes were at risk in the 2003 fire. The fuel treatment played an important role in providing protection for those homes.
  • Fuel treatment costs per acre on the San Bernardino National Forest are among the nations highest. In 2003, fuel treatments cost an average of $3,800 to $4,000 per acre, with some treatment costs even higher. Over time, the cost per acre has been considerably reduced. In 2007 fuel treatment costs were down to $1,800 to $2,000 per acre - still the highest costs in the country.
  • High treatment costs reflect the narrow potential choices for management. Underburning adjacent to homes in this environment carries unacceptable risk and undesired smoke impacts. Natural resources, including soils, wildlife habitat and water quality require protection.

Contact:  Sue Stewart, 202-205-1129,

Last modified: Tuesday, 07-Jul-2015 16:40:55 CDT