Firesetting Arrests Reduce Future Intentional Fires

New research by the USDA Forest Service explores how law enforcement efforts might impact future incidents of arson. “We found very little documented research on whether arrests, as a distinct measure of law enforcement efforts, are linked to reductions in the occurrence of intentional fires or whether such efforts have broader impacts across space and…  More 

Weather Conditions Inform Timing of Prescribed Fire

Prescribed fires generate smoke, which can harm human health – especially in areas where humans and forests are close together. “Weather conditions are critical for prescribed fire, especially the effects of wind and humidity on smoke plume formation,” says Yongqiang Liu, USDA Forest Service research meteorologist. Liu is the lead author of a modeling study…  More 

Firefighting Class of 2018

A few hundred feet from the Davidson River in North Carolina, 20 young people sit in a classroom. It’s no ordinary class – it’s the Davidson River Initial Attack Crew in the making. The students are in the advanced wildfire management program at Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, operated by the USDA Forest Service.…  More 

Drier Weather, Drier Fuels

Dry weather – and huge wildfires – are common. “Climate change would modify fuel moisture and wildland fires dramatically across the United States,” says Yongqiang Liu. Liu is a U.S. Forest Service research meteorologist who recently investigated climate impacts on fuel moisture. His study was published in the journal Ecohydrology. Weather quickly influences fuel moisture…  More 

After the Fire, What Happens to Water Yield?

The immediate impacts of large and severe wildfires on water runoff have long been known to researchers, land managers, and, increasingly, the communities in their path. Devastating mudslides and millions of dollars in flood damage occur each year following fires that compromise vegetation and soils that would otherwise absorb and regulate the flow of post-fire…  More 

How Much Will Future Wildfires Cost the Federal Government?

In mid-November, the White House Office of Management and Budget published a preliminary assessment of the fiscal risks the federal government faces due to climate change. The report examines fiscal risk in five areas that will be directly affected by climate change: crop insurance, health care, hurricane-related disaster relief, flood risk, and wildfire suppression. The risk assessment section…  More 

Climate and Society Will Determine the Future of Wildfire in the South

A new study by U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators projects a four percent increase overall in acres burned by wildfire in the Southeast by 2060, but with substantial uncertainties and large variations by state and ecoregion, including a 34 percent increase in acres burned due to lightning-caused fires. The study, just published in the…  More 

Our Dry, Warm Future may Favor Oaks

Historically, many oak forests across the eastern U.S. experienced frequent low-intensity fires that promoted the establishment and growth of oaks. “However, fire and other disturbances have become less common,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist James Vose. “Red maple, tulip poplar, and other mesophytic, fire-sensitive, and shade-tolerant trees are increasing in many areas of the eastern…  More 

The Future of Fire in the South

Fire is an integral part of the southern landscape. In the U.S., most of the focus is on the catastrophic fires that regularly sweep across the western states, but wildfires actually occur more frequently in the Southeast, where rapid vegetation growth and fuel accumulation combine with frequent ignitions from lightning and humans. The South leads the nation…  More 

Wildfire Suppression in 1916

A window into the early years of fire fighting is available online due to the persistent efforts of Southern Research Station (SRS) scientist Jeff Prestemon. Roy Headley, who served as head of the Forest Service Division of Fire Control (precursor to today’s Fire and Aviation Management Office) for 25 years, started out with the Forest Service at…  More