Wildland fires are a natural feature of many ecosystems, including grasslands, forests, and shrublands. How-ever, years of fire exclusion have led to accumulations of dead fuels and increases in the density of fire-intolerant species. In most western states, recent fires burning in these altered ecosystems have caused significant damage and huge economic losses to homes, busi-nesses, and communities. They also have dis-turbed forests and rangelands as well as their associated watersheds, plants, and animals. Every western state is concerned about dam-age from such catastrophic fires, and there is strong interest from all sectors in prevent-ing and reducing the resulting damage in the future. There is also interest in the use of fire as a management tool for reducing hazards and restoring damaged ecosystems and for returning fire to its natural role in wilderness ecosystems.