Category: General Article

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Fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon which can affect almost any terrestrial ecosystem. Most commonly caused in nature by a lightning strike, fire is often a force for renewal, destroying dead or decaying growth and allowing for a healthier ecosystem. In fact, some ecosystems, including the conifer forests of the Pacific Northwest, actually require fire as a component for renewal. The study of the ecological effects of fire is known as “fire ecology.”

But often people see wildfires as something inherently bad to the natural world. In the United States, as people pushed westward during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in particular, more of our natural areas became “managed.” This meant that people made decisions as to how those areas were going to be used, and this often meant repressing natural occurrences like flooding, the growth of certain types of vegetation and wild fire.

Preventing wild fires, or introducing the renewing force of fire through “controlled burns,” has long been the policy of most land use management in this country. Indeed, public agencies and policy has been largely successful at portraying wild fires as something to be avoided at all costs, even when naturally-occurring. Part of this reasoning is rooted in how wild fires may affect natural resources. For example, timber destroyed in a blaze cannot be used for human purposes and may have a direct economic impact on local communities.

For people who live in natural areas, wild fire is naturally a serious safety concern and you can find some helpful tips by following the links below.

Related Information: National Park Service: Wildland Fire | US Forest Service: Fire Prevention and Education | Notable Wild Fires on the Oregon Coast