Aerial Application of Fire Retardant

The Forest Service has broad responsibilities in the management of wildland fire, ranging from immediate suppression to the lighting of controlled fires to safely restore fire-adapted ecosystems. In managing wildfire, the Forest Service’s clear mission includes protection of landscapes, resources, and people. Regard for human safety and the management of risk guide all fire management decisions and actions. On every fire, firefighter and public safety are the highest priorities.helicopter making a retardant drop

In October 2007, the Forest Service issued an environmental assessment (EA) and decision notice and finding of no significant impact (DN/FONSI) entitled "Aerial Application of Fire Retardant". In February 2008, the Forest Service amended the DN/FONSI by incorporating the reasonable and prudent alternatives proposed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries during the Section 7 consultation process prescribed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

On July 27, 2010, the United States District Court for the District of Montana issued a decision that invalidated the Forest Service's decision to adopt the Guidelines for Aerial Delivery of Retardant or Foam Near Waterways" (2000 Guidelines). The 2000 Guidelines are to minimize the impact of aerially-delivered fire retardant on aquatic life and habitat.  Click here for the 2000 Guidelines.  The Court directed the Forest Service, USFWS, and NOAA Fisheries to cure NEPA and ESA violations and for the Forest Service to issue a new decision no later than December 31, 2011.