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Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT

Posted date: August 31, 2015
Publication Year: 
2015
Publication Series: 
Proceedings (P)
Source: Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 345 p.

Abstract

Large fires or "megafires" have been a major topic in wildland fire research and management for over a decade. There is great debate regarding the impacts of large fires. Many believe that they (1) are occurring too frequently, (2) are burning abnormally large areas, (3) cause uncharacteristically adverse ecological harm, and (4) must be suppressed at all costs. Others believe that large fires can effectively reintroduce fire back into those declining fire-prone ecosystems where fires have been excluded for decades, thereby (1) improving ecosystem health, (2) reducing future fire hazard, (3) providing critical fuel breaks, and (4) increasing ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change. Adding to the dilemma is the fact that little is known of the short- and long-term ecological impacts of large fires on historical, contemporary, and future landscapes and this lack of knowledge fuels the debate that surrounds both the causes and consequences of large fires. Just because a fire is large doesn't necessarily mean that it is unnatural or undesirable, unless, of course, it threatens human life and property. Large fires may provide unique opportunities to restore ecosystems and treat fuels across extensive areas.

Citation

Keane, Robert E.; Jolly, Matt; Parsons, Russell; Riley, Karin. 2015. Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 345 p.