Wildfires

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Topics: Wildfire
A wildfire is any instance of uncontrolled burning in grasslands, brush, or woodlands. Wildfires destroy property and valuable natural resources, and may threaten the lives of people and animals. Wildfires can occur at any time of the year, but usually occur during hot, dry weather. Wildfires are usually signaled by dense smoke which may fill the air for miles around. The National Weather Service, U.S. Forest Service, and State forestry agencies combine to give wildfire probability forecasts. Local radio and television stations broadcast information and warnings on local fire conditions. Wildfires pose an increasing threat to the residential United States. In 1987, 53,000 fires consumed more than two million acres. By October 1988, almost 70,000 fires had claimed more than four million acres. The increase in fires is the result of population growth in rural communities and in the wild land and urban interface. Fire is a powerful, natural phenomenon (www.nps.gov/pub_aff/issues/fire.html, pg.3). Fire has great impact on the people and environment of North America as one saw when in 1988 wildfires broke out all over Yellowstone National Park burning 793,880 acres. For hundreds of years man has suppressed wildfires. The federal government controls fires on federal forestland, and state government controls state forestland. It was believed that by suppressing the fires man ensured a healthy future for the forest. But, as scientists have gathered more information on the effects of fire on forest ecosystems, they have learned that fire exclusion might not have been the best practice for land management. A new technique known as prescribed fire has been used in the last twenty years to reintroduce the natural process of fire back into the forests. While not all the effects of prescribed fire are seen right now, we do know the effects of fire exclusion, and we do know some of the benefits of prescribed fire. Over the past couple of decades, forest management teams

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