Most of us grew up with Smokey’s motto and as we learn more about fire ecology we find we don’t always want to prevent a forest fire.
Fire is important for nutrient recycling, plant diversity and overall landscape health.
When a fire burns through an area it essentially speeds up the decomposition process and recycles phosphorus, nitrogen and other elements back into the soil. This creates a nutrient rich area that is now open to sunlight, where sun loving plants can now grow uninhibited.
The most important thing about fires is that they need to be managed! The Fire Managers at Grand Teton National Park do just that as they try to balance natural forest health while protecting people and property.
Fire managers use a variety of plans to achieve their goals:
- They closely monitor natural fires! When lighting strikes and sparks a fire, crews take minimal action unless it threatens lives or property.
- They use a control burning method! This can occur for several reasons which include restoring early vegetation environments, diversifying habitats, and to burn accumulated fuels to minimize the risk to developments. They usually burn in the spring or fall when the weather conditions are more favorable.
- They also monitor regrowth areas both immediately after the fire and over the long term to learn more about fire ecology.
If you are interested in seeing the fire scars of Grand Teton National Park, take a hike near Jenny Lake, Taggart Lake or Colter Bay.
Now does this mean you can leave your campfire unattended? NO, of course not! You still need to prevent unsupervised fires! Give yourself an extra hour to burn down your fire, and always be sure to keep enough water nearby to squelch any flair-ups. Also be aware of Park regulations and report any unattended fires!
Do you want to know more about fire management? Than check out the NPS website at http://www.nps.gov/grte/parkmgmt/firemanagement.htm
Want to know more about the fires currently burning in Grand Teton National Park visit: www.tetonfires.com
From Melissa’s Corner
Image credit: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/04/environmental-destruction-agency-making-parks-coal-friendly.php