In the news: Thompson, Boisramé and Fire Management

PhD student Gabrielle Boisramé and Professor Sally Thompson have co-authored a study that shows that managing fire, rather than suppressing it, makes wilderness areas more resilient to fire—with the added benefit of increased water availability and resistance to drought.

After a three-year, on-the-ground assessment of Yosemite's Illilouette Creek basin, Berkeley researchers concluded that a strategy dating to 1973 of managing wildfires with minimal suppression and almost no preemptive, so-called prescribed burns has created a landscape more resistant to catastrophic fire, with more diverse vegetation and forest structure and increased water storage, mostly in the form of meadows in areas cleared by fires.

This “wildfire management” strategy is counter to the federal government’s 110-year-old Smokey Bear policy, which emphasizes suppressing fires wherever they occur for fear they will get out of control.

The study is published in the current issue of the journal Ecosystems.

See Wildfire management vs. fire suppression benefits forest and watershed (Berkeley News, 10/24/16)