The wildfire model for invasive weed management is a simple yet effective strategic guide framed on the cornerstones of prevention, early detection, timely control, and vegetation restoration. These guidelines are the same fundamental ingredients that make up this nation's formula for effective wildfire management. Just as early detection is critical for success in fighting fires, early detection is also essential for minimizing ecological effects and to control costs associated with new weed invasions. Both active and passive detection are important in wildfire management, and the same is true for invasive weed management. Passive weed detection -- the chance discovery of new infestations by individuals pursuing other outdoor activities -- can be helpful but is generally haphazard and incomplete. Passive detection alone will almost certainly fail to find many weed infestations until they have grown too large for true eradication. However, passive detection should neither be discouraged nor its value minimized because it can provide a meaningful way to inform and include additional people who otherwise would not be concerned or involved in weed management. Active weed detection consists of periodic field surveys conducted by trained individuals having clearly defined objectives and using sound search and mapping methods. Tradional methods of on-the-ground weed surveys remain important, but new technology such as remote sensing now offers additional options. Systematic field surveys and other early detection efforts are as important to successful weed management as the organized network of fire lookouts and aircraft patrols are to modern wildfire management. Any wildland invasive weed management program that does not include an effective early detention component will most likely fail.