Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Yosemite Fire Example of Things to Come

Post Rim Fire in Yosemite. Source: Reed Crane, USFS
Forest composition, ground cover and topography are the best predictors of forest fire severity in the Western U.S., according to Penn State physical geographers who also see that the long history of fire exclusion on federal lands leads to uncharacteristically severe burns and potentially changes the dynamics of forests and their recovery.

"Fuels and terrain were the major factors contributing to the severity of the forest fire," said Lucas Harris, graduate student at Penn State. "The only one of these that can be controlled is the fuel."   

To mitigate the situation, the researchers suggest that it might take multiple low to moderate severity controlled burns to restore the forest to one that self-regulates through natural periodic fires in small areas.

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