As part of the 1998 Joint USDA/USDI Fire Science Program, the Fire and Fire Surrogates Study was proposed to establish and evaluate cross-comparisons of fuels treatment practices and techniques to reduce wildfire risk. This study evaluates prescribed fire, thinning, and various mechanical treatment methods for treating, removing, or using woody biomass. Site-specific and study-wide evaluations will assess watershed impacts, soil disturbance, vegetation responses, wildlife changes, ecological consequences, social impacts, economics, and potential effects on wildfire size, severity, and cost. The study design is flexible to address local treatment variations and effects and will be installed at 10 locations representative of Interior Washington-Oregon, Northern California, Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mountain, Southwest Ponderosa Pine, Southern Pine, and mixed hardwood-oak forest ecosystems. This paper outlines the study components and discusses the potential for providing guidance on the treatment of fuels and use of fire for future watershed management decisions.