Monday, July 29, 2013

Fighting Fire with Fire

Before people replaced wilderness with homes and ranches, wildfires were essential to the American West. Plains and prairies burned regularly, and those fires not only determined the flora and fauna that made up the ecosystem, but they regenerated the land.

Now scientists are trying to bring fire back to the land, though they are finding that many humans do not understand the purpose.

"I know that every time we've done burns we get a lot of calls to the fire department, people saying, 'Oh, no, why would you do that?'" Grace Stanley of the Montana Conservation Corps told NPR. "People don't really understand that fire regenerates, and it's a natural process that the earth needs."
In Montana government decided to stop all wildfires a century ago -- a move that upset the balance of the ecosystem. Now, scientists are doing controlled burns to burn off high grass and undergrowth, which are often fuel for out-of-control wildfires that burn everything in their wake.

For more information on controlled fires and Montana's efforts to prevent wildfires and promote regenerative growth, read the story on NPR.

Texas A&M University Press offers a comprehensive guide for controlled burns, aimed directly to landowners and other professionals. For more information on Conducting Prescribed Fire: A Comprehensive Manual, click here.