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Flames in Our Forest : Disaster or Renewal? / Edition 1

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Shaped by fire for thousands of years, the forests of the western United States are as adapted to periodic fires as they are to the region's soils and climate. Our widespread practice of ignoring the vital role of fire is costly in both ecological and economic terms, with consequences including the decline of important fire-dependent tree and undergrowth species, increasing density and stagnation of forests, epidemics of insects and diseases, and the high potential for severe wildfires.

Flames in Our Forest explains those problems and presents viable solutions to them. It explores the underlying historical and ecological reasons for the problems associated with our attempts to exclude fire and examines how some of the benefits of natural fire can be restored Chapters consider: •the history of American perceptions and uses of fire in the forest •how forest fires burn •effects of fire on the soil, water, and air •methods for uncovering the history and effects of past fires •prescribed fire and fuel treatments for different zones in the landscape

Flames in Our Forest presents a new picture of the role of fire in maintaining forests, describes the options available for restoring the historical effects of fires, and considers the implications of not doing so. It will help readers appreciate the importance of fire in forests and gives a nontechnical overview of the scientific knowledge and tools available for sustaining western forests by mimicking and restoring the effects of natural fire regimes.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Arno and Allison-Bunnell provide a nontechnical account of the story of fire in the western forests of the U.S., based on current scientific knowledge and experience. They explore the importance of fire to forests, and ways in which some of the benefits of natural fire can be restored, including the creative use and suppression of fires that occur, prescribed burning, management of forest fuels, the art and science of forest management, and ways to make forest homes and their surroundings more resistant to fire. Arno was a research forester with the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula; Allison-Bunnell is a science writer and educational multimedia producer based in Missoula. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559638838
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Introduction: Why Learn about Fire? 1
Ch. 2 Mixed Signals: A Brief History of American Perceptions of Fire 11
Ch. 3 Fire on the Landscape: Past, Present, and Future 27
Ch. 4 Fire Behavior: Why and How Fire Burns 37
Ch. 5 Nature's Creative Force: How Fire Shapes the Forest 51
Ch. 6 Different Forests, Different Fires 65
Ch. 7 Environmental Impacts: Fire's Influence on Soils, Water, and Air 89
Ch. 8 Fire History: Discovering Effects of Past Fires in a Forest 103
Ch. 9 Fire-Prone Forests: Can We Adapt to Them? 119
Ch. 10 Restoring Nature's Creative Force 137
Ch. 11 Managing Wildland Fuels around Homes 157
Ch. 12 Lessons from Nature: Will We Learn? 169
App Getting Help: Information and Educational Resources for Forest Landowners 183
References 189
About the Authors 213
Index 215
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