In Black Hills National Forest, Firefighters Are The Ones Setting The Blazes


“Safety is the number one thing we’re concerned about,” Virtue said. “Whether it’s our firefighters on the ground implementing the prescribed burn, or the general public, our cooperators.”

Burning improves the overall forest health and allows for natural thinning, which helps reduce ecological competition. “So in turn, fewer trees per acre, resulting in bigger, more fire-resistant trees,” Virtue said. The ash from the fires also turns into fertilizer for the soil, thus providing nutrients for the forest.

“Another benefit is improvised water quality and quantity,” the forest officer said — as long as it’s a controlled, low-intensity fire. “If you have a high-intensity fire, you’re gonna have issues,” he said. Large, uncontrolled wildfires, like the ones seen in California over the last several years, can destroy vegetation that would otherwise absorb water while also altering terrain conditions, ultimately increasing the risk of flash floods in the fire’s aftermath.

This post was originally published on BuzzFeed

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