8 Things You Should Know About Fire
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It’s fire season! Fire gets a friggin’ bad wrap during fire season. I’m here to set the story straight.
Essentially, you shouldn’t base everything you know solely in how it’s portrayed in the media, so here are a few things you need to know about fires.
First, many plants and animals depend on fire. One great example is the longleaf pine and other plants and animals that live in a forest like this. These forests used to once make up most of the south. 97% of that is gone now. To bring it back we need fire.
Fires in these forests would be lit traditionally by either lightning or Native Americans and they’d burn the undergrowth. We’re trying to bring back these routine fires in an effort to bring back the forests.
If you suppress fire across the country, you get lots of fuel on the ground. Those fuels build up and can then cause really devastating fires. Those fires kill not only the hardwoods, but they’ll kill the big pine trees too. Then you have to start all over again!
Diversity exists not only because fire kills certain species, but because fire doesn’t burn through a habitat in a consistent manner. Instead, it creates a mosaic. Spots that have pine cones for instance burn hotter and create dead-zones. Some plants need those dead-zones to germinate.
The South burns almost as much in prescribed fires as the West has in wildfires.
One of the real dangers in wildland fire is the smoke. It’s actually bad for human health. That’s why the Forest Service has meteorologists on staff – all to make sure the smoke gets away from the public.
The US Forest Service now spends over half its budget on fighting fires. That’s up from only 16% back in 1995. The problem is that the Forest Service does a lot more than just fire management, and could really do a lot with extra funding given that their budget isn’t growing but that fire fighting is continually taking over the costs.
Smokey the Bear of old wasn’t necessarily 100% right about fire. Sure, you shouldn’t randomly create a forest fire, but fire is good for the forest. Should I say that again. Fire is good for the system. The new smokey only says we need to stop forest-fires, not wildland fires. Still, it could be confusing for the public. Essentially, it’s all about education.
Hopefully you learned a bit. I encourage you though to watch our feature on fire, where I really explore how and why smokey’s message confused everyone! – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14USIqGFSW4
Most of the credit here needs to go to the smart people (the scientists) at the US Forest Service for their years of work to advance our understanding of fire. It’s also kinda cool that we can change our ways for the better when we figure out the science.
Special thanks to:
Plus, all the other USFS scientists who help make this video informative and fun! You guys are great.
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