The Obameter

More controlled burns to reduce wildfires

"Will use controlled burns and prescribed natural fire to reduce such fuels in close coordination with those communities that are most at risk. Thousands of jobs will be created by working with communities to thin unnaturally crowded forests close to homes. And by coordinating fuel reduction efforts with biomass energy projects, communities will have the potential to
generate new sources of low cost energy. Resources will be focused where they will do the most good: in the wildland-urban interface, and not in fighting fires or on logging projects in remote, backcountry areas."


More fires, to prevent burning down the house

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to increase the use of controlled burns to reduce the onset of wildfires. The initiative would, according to President Obama, create new job opportunities and provide an alternative source for low cost energy.

Controlled burning is a common technique used to eliminate fuels like dead wood and brush that often start and exacerbate wildfires. According to the U.S. Forest Service, "this low-intensity fire is vital to the life cycles of fire-dependent range and forest lands."

To rate this promise, we wanted to check whether there has been an increase in the use of prescribed fires since President Obama took office in January 2009. We called the National Association of State Foresters, which directed us to the National Interagency Fire Center. According to its website, NIFC is "the nation's support center for wildland firefighting," composed of eight different agencies and organizations. NIFC also maintains a database of prescribed fires dating back to 1998. In 2008, there were a total of 7,669 controlled burns, but that number jumped to 12,669 in 2009 under President Obama. That's an increase of over 65 percent.

With that big an increase, we give him a Promise Kept.


U.S. Forest Service, Prescribed Fires , Accessed Dec. 23, 2009.

National Interagency Fire Center, Wildland Fire Statistics , Accessed Dec. 23, 2009.