After every fire, scientists and other experts attempt to turn some good from a bad situation by studying the effects of wildfire so that we can learn more.
What we know is that although wildfires are part of a natural cycle, a strict ‘hands-off’ approach can allow serious environmental damage to occur in ways that endanger delicate forest ecosystems.
See how much greenhouse gas emissions were produced from wildfires in 2015.
Up to 1/3 of the forests in Eastern Washington are in need of restoration. Scientific research shows that proactively managing forests maintains and improves forest health and habitat quality. Harvesting, thinning small trees and clearing brush followed by controlled burning can all be effective methods to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. “Prescribed fires” are carefully managed fires during mild weather conditions used to intentionally reduce vegetation under trees, prepare new seed beds, and dispose of excess wood debris on the forest floor.
Although fires are part of a natural cycle, when blazes break out in unmanaged, unhealthy forests the results exceed Nature’s plans. Acting quickly to keep fires small with early suppression can prevent larger-scale devastation and environmental damage.
The easiest fire to fight is one that doesn’t occur. When privately owned, state, and federally managed forests are on the same page for applying practices that promote forest health, the conditions that catastrophic fire need to rage in many cases do not exist.
After a fire has burned out or been extinguished, science can tell us when it’s right to begin ecological restoration. By getting to work as soon as possible, we can retain the economic value of burned timber and do critical work to control soil erosion that can harm water quality, fish habitat, and create increased risk of landslides.