Wildfire plays an important and integral role in our forested ecosystems. Local fire history records show that our forests have evolved with fire for thousands of years. We have successfully suppressed 98% of wildfires in the greater Flathead Area since approximately 1930, and the resulting accumulation of fuel creates an environment conducive to large fire growth. It’s important for our community to understand wildfire and promote a proactive approach to mitigating impacts to our communities; private property, airshed, watersheds and forest ecosystems.
On April 25th, the community is invited to a public event and conversation at the Flathead Valley Community College, Arts and Technology Building Room 139 at 6:00 p.m., for an “Era of Megafires” presentation. This 70-minute multi-media traveling presentation by Dr. Paul Hessburg, will help our community understand the issues surrounding Megafires, so collectively we can move toward solutions that can change the way we receive wildfire and related smoke. Dr. Hessburg has conducted fire and landscape ecology research for more than 27 years.
The “Era of Megafires” presentation will be followed by a question and answer session around topics that are relevant to the community in order to identify local challenges and local actions. Typically, different communities face different obstacles when it comes to wildfire preparedness and resilience.
The intent of this presentation is to significantly reduce the amount of loss we are experiencing by developing a collective understanding of fire, approaches to wildfire management, and how landowners can engage.
The “Era of Megafires” is brought to you by Flathead Area FireSafe Council, Northern Rockies Fire Science Network; Southwestern Crown Collaborative, Montana DNRC/Kalispell Unit; Flathead National Forest, Flathead Valley Community College and FireSafe Montana. For more information, contact Mike West, Flathead National Forest at 758-3939, or Ali Ulwelling, MT DNRC at 751-2270.
Here’s a good write-up on Ron Wakimoto, an eminent fire researcher who has had a big impact on modern wildland fire management . . .
Some fire scientists burn down hillsides. Some burn up whole fire policies.
Ron Wakimoto has done both, developing research that helps save the lives of firefighters and helps return fire to the woods after a half-century of fighting to keep it out. Last week, he wound up more than three decades of teaching fire science at the University of Montana’s School of Forestry.
“Ron has been a leader in terms of teaching, and we wanted the students to be able to hear from an elder,” said Colin Hardy, director of the U.S. Forest Service Fire Sciences Laboratory, just before Wakimoto spoke to the annual Mike and Maybelle Hardy Lecture audience last Thursday. “He taught us we need to think about fire management, not just fire suppression. On the political and management side, it’s about air tankers and people on the ground and big iron – it’s a big show. But among fire managers today, Ron’s speaking to the choir.”
Wildfires are handled a lot differently than they were a few decades ago . . .
Smokey Bear taught a simple message: “Only you can prevent forest fires.”
Modern fire science has grown far beyond that slogan, according to Tom Zimmerman, president of the International Association of Wildland Fire. But the public that breathes the smoke and the politicians who control the funding have trouble seeing fire as something other than an unnatural event that needs to be stopped.
“There are a lot of jokes out there about Smoky and drip-torches,” Zimmerman said. “We’re still coming out of that era when all fire was harmful. And there’s no good six-word message to replace it.”