Although fires have roared through the Appalachian Mountains devouring thousands of acres since October, a Clemson University professor wants people to understand not all fires are bad.
Rob Baldwin, a forestry and environmental conservation professor, has received a three-year grant for $216,000 from the U.S. Forest Services to develop outreach activities for the Consortium of Appalachian Fire Managers and Scientists (CAFMS).
“Fire is a natural part of forests,” Baldwin said. “It is made worse by poor fire management. We want to teach people how to properly use fire to prevent fire-related disasters, such as what we’re now seeing in the Appalachian Mountains.”
The Consortium, headquartered at Clemson, is comprised of fire managers and researchers who work in the field of fire science. It will hold prescribed fire public meetings, a fire communications workshop and publish a newsletter and use other means of communicating with the public about fire management.
Helen Mohr, Consortium director, said the mission of the Consortium is to facilitate the flow of information about fire science and research needs among managers and scientists in the Appalachian region.
“The fire managers are out in the field every day and they have a good feel for what research is needed,” said Mohr, who also is a forester with the Forest Service Southern Research Station. “The Consortium communicates this message to the scientists who conduct the research to provide solutions to fire-related issues.”
People can learn about proper fire management from materials provided by the Consortium, including webinars and workshops, as well as its website.
Webinars currently available on the website include Finding the Best Science Available on Fire Ecology and Fire Regimes of Northeastern, Great Lakes and Appalachian Ecosystems. This webinar provides managers and planners with information about historical fire regimes and changes in fuels and fire regimes to make informed management decisions.
Other information found on the website includes analysis tools, research briefs and fact sheets, references and guides, and workshop materials and presentations.
In addition to the web-based tools, the Consortium also has The Fire Learning Trail.
“The Fire Learning Trail is an enhanced interpretive trail in Pisgah National Forest near the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area,” said Jenifer Bunty, information coordinator for the Consortium. “It introduces visitors to the role of fire in this area as well as wildland firefighters and local history.”
The trail includes educational signs and a podcast-style audio tour that is available on free CDs at the Linville Gorge Information Cabin. The audio tour also can be downloaded from www.appalachianfire.org/thefirelearningtrail/ or iTunes.
The Consortium also posts information to its social network sites. Use #goodfire to follow the Consortium on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.
The Consortium is one of 15 knowledge exchange networks supported by the Joint Fire Science Program.
For more information, email Helen Mohr at firstname.lastname@example.org