An unprecedented 40-year experiment in a 40,000 acre valley of Yosemite National Park strongly supports the idea that managing fire, rather than suppressing it, makes wilderness areas more resilient to fire, with the added benefit of increased water availability and resistance to drought.
After a three-year assessment of the Park's Illilouette Creek Basin, UC Berkeley researchers concluded that a strategy dating to 1973 of managing wildfires with minimal suppression and almost no prescribed burns has created a landscape more resistant to catastrophic fire, with more diverse vegetation, forest structure and increased water storage.
"When fire is not suppressed, you get all these benefits: increased stream flow, increased downstream water availability, increased soil moisture, which improves habitat for the plants in the watershed. And it increases the drought resistance of the remaining trees and also increases the fire resilience because you have created these natural firebreaks," said Gabrielle Boisramé, graduate student at UC Berkeley's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and first author of the study.
The Cohesive Wildland Fire Strategy supports management of fires where possible. Managing fires is part of the Cohesive Strategy vision: to safely and effectively suppress fires, use fire where allowable, manage our natural resources, and as a Nation, live with wildland fire. Watch the video above, read the full article here and the published study here.