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The Forest Service has managed wildland fire for more than 100 years. But how we do it - why, when, and where we do it - has changed.

For decades, we fought fire. First with hand tools and strong backs, then with aircraft and engines, we engaged fire in the wildlands and put it out. We became good at it, among the best in the world.

But science has changed the way we think about wildland fire and the way we manage it. We still fight it, especially to protect communities and the resources people need—but we also use it to make forests and grasslands healthier and to protect communities and natural resources, especially clean, abundant water.

We still use hand tools and strong backs, aircraft and engines. And we are still the best wildland fire organization in the world. But we recognize the role of natural fire in the health of many ecosystems, and we continue to move forward through research and technology to understand and manage fire better, so when we need to put it out, we can. And when we need to use it, we can do that too—more safely, more effectively than 100 years ago, but not as well as we will 100 years from now.

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Learn more about helping communities reduce their risk by adapting to wildfire at  Fire Adapted Communities

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