The restoration will not be televised

  • NPS/Photo by Jim Peaco
  • After the Fires

  In nature, there is neither right or wrong — only consequences. The truth of that is demonstrated in After the Fires: The Ecology of Change in Yellowstone National Park.

The wildfires that swept Yellowstone in 1988 were the first prime-time forest fires, according to the book. Television viewers stared aghast at the raging flames and blackened trees. But their visceral horror belied the fact that major conflagrations are part of the natural process at Yellowstone. After the Fires, a collection of articles by different authors, chronicles the results of research into fire’s long-term effects on the ecosystem, its plants and its animals.

This technical book is not light reading, but it offers interesting and sometimes surprising information. Scenes from the Disney movie Bambi notwithstanding, snow and drought have a greater impact on the survival of wildlife, such as elk and bison, than do wildfires, because fires are more localized than weather. And despite the devastation wrought by the 1988 burn, the researchers conclude, it caused no long-term reduction in wildlife populations. Likewise, the effects on vegetation were generally neutral or positive. Even where severe crown fires burned most of the lodgepole pine seeds, researchers found that regrowth was sufficient to restore the stands.

This research could have implications for forest management. One chapter shows that natural fires create up to four times the amount of coarse woody debris — snags and fallen wood that nourish the soil as they decay — as timber harvesting. Clearly, logging can’t entirely replace wildfire as a means of maintaining forest health.

The book warns that wildfires may become harmful if global warming causes them to become more frequent. Otherwise, however, fire is a natural phenomenon that is "sometimes unpopular" but offers "a fascinating look into the forces that shape our natural world."

High Country News Classifieds
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home... this is the one.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR MOJAVE DESERT LAND TRUST
    Organization Background: The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization, founded in 2006. Our mission is to protect the ecosystems of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • SMALL FARM AT THE BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA
    Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...
  • FOREST STEWARDSHIP PROJECT DIRECTOR
    Become a force for nature and a healthy planet by joining the Arizona Chapter as Forest Stewardship Project Director. You will play a key role...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is accepting applications for an Executive Director. This position will provide leadership to RSA, develop a fund raising plan, and effectively communicate...
  • WRITING PLACE: THE ANIMAS RIVER REGION WRITING WORKSHOP
    REGISTER ONLINE BY: Friday, June 15 WHERE: Durango, CO (location TBD) WHEN: Monday, July 16 Youth workshop: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. (18 and under,...
  • EQUITY IN THE OUTDOORS COORDINATOR
    The Equity in the Outdoors Coordinator will lead community engagement, program implementation and development, and data collection for the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM). EVOM...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a personable individual who is passionate about conservation to join our Sandpoint Field Office. The Community Engagement Assistant will...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT FLY ROD CASES
    4 standard or custom lengths. Rugged protection for backpacking. Affordable pricing.
  • EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION INTERN/ASSISTANT
    Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIVE MEDIA SERVICES
    In-depth investigations of polluters, lobbyists, regulators, elected officials and others focused on environmentally damaging projects in the U.S. and internationally. We specialize in mining projects,...
  • UNDEVELOPED 40 ACRES - SOUTHWEST COLORADO
    in beautiful Montezuma County.
  • TRUCK DRIVER
    Class A & B drivers, pass all DOT requirements and clean driving record
  • MARIA'S BOOKSHOP FOR SALE
    - Thriving Indie bookstore in the heart of Durango, Colorado. General bookstore with 34-year history as a community hub for Southwest region of CO. 1800...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    HawkWatch International seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our awesome team! This position will provide support in all aspects of the department. We are looking...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details:
  • HAND CRAFTED LOG HOME IN TETON VALLEY
    on ten acres. Full view of the Grand Teton. 35 miles to Yellowstone and 20 minutes to Grand Targhee Ski Area.