We investigate the spatiotemporal patterns of prescribed fire and wildfire within Washington State, USA using records from the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Spatiotemporal comparisons of prescribed fire and wildfire area burned revealed that (1) fire activity broadly differed between the eastern and western portion of the state in terms of total area and distribution of burn sources, (2) over the 2004–2019 period, wildfire largely replaced prescribed fire as the predominant source of burning, and (3) wildfire and prescribed fire occur during distinct months of the year. Spatiotemporal variation in prescribed fire activity at regional levels were measured using five parameters: total area burned, total biomass burned, burn days, burn approval rates, and pile burn frequency. Within-region spatial variability in prescribed fire parameters across land ownership categories and bioclimatic categories were often detectable. Regression models of the annualized prescribed fire parameters suggested that prescribed fire activities have been declining in multiple administrative regions over the 2004–2019 period. A descriptive analysis of seasonal trends found that prescribed fire use largely peaked in the fall months, with minor peaks usually occurring in the spring. Lastly, we described how area burned, biomass burned, and pile burn frequency differed between prescribed fires approved and denied by the DNR, and found that approved prescribed fires were typically smaller and burned less biomass than denied fires.
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