Many natural resource agencies and organizations recognize the importance of fuel treatments as tools for reducing fire hazards and restoring ecosystems. However, there continues to be confusion and misconception about fuel treatments and their implementation and effects in fire-prone landscapes across the United States. This paper (1) summarizes objectives, methods, and expected outcomes of fuel treatments in forests of the Interior West, (2) highlights common misunderstandings and areas of disagreement, and (3) synthesizes relevant literature to establish a common ground for future discussion and planning. It is important to understand the strengths and limitations of fuel treatments to evaluate their potential to achieve an objective, develop sensible fire management policies, and plan for their effective use. We suggest that, while the potential of fuel treatment to reduce wildfire occurrence or enhance suppression capability is uncertain, it has an important role in mitigating negative wildfire effects, increasing ecosystem resilience and making wildfire more acceptable. Published by Elsevier B.V.