More Area Burned in Non-Forest than Forest from 2000-2020 in the West

Bar graph showing increase in nonforest area burned 2000-2020

View brief.

Wildfires burned more area on non-forested lands than forested lands over the past 20 years. This was true for all land ownerships in CONUS and the western US. Burned area increased over the 20-year time period for both non-forest and forest. Across CONUS, annual area burned was higher on non-forest than forests for 14 of the past 21 years (Fig. 1), and total area burned was almost 3,000,000 ha more in non-forest than in forest. For the western US, total burned area was almost 1,500,000 ha more in non-forest than in forest. From a federal agency perspective, approximately 74% of the burned area on Department of the Interior (DOI) lands occurred in non-forest and 78% of the burned area on US Forest Service (FS) lands occurred in the forest.

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