Fire and the American West: 3 Scientific Societies

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“Climate change has created desert-like conditions across much of the
central and western U.S., causing fires to burn larger and hotter and
amplifying negative effects on soil quality and ecosystem services.”
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Ecological Society of America
ESANEWS

MEDIA ADVISORY: For Immediate Release
July 7, 2008

Ecology, Soil and Economics Societies to Hold Briefings on Post-Wildfire
Resource Management

WASHINGTON-Three prominent scientific societies will present briefings
on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 9, to inform lawmakers about how to
manage natural areas after they have been consumed by wildfires. Jointly
sponsored by the Ecological Society of America (ESA), the Soil Science
Society of America (SSSA) and the Council on Food, Agricultural and
Resource Economics (C-FARE), the briefings will comprise three experts
in the fields of forest ecology, forest soil science and resource
economics.

Since 1990, the number and acreage of fires in the United States has
increased by 30-fold compared to historical fires dating back to 1910.
During the summer months, these wildfires devastate hundreds of square
miles of forests in the western U.S. Burned areas are often vulnerable
to soil erosion, which can lead to landslides, river sedimentation,
plant and animal loss and contaminated watersheds. The management of
burned areas has direct implications for the regeneration of these
valuable ecosystem resources.

“Research into effective management of post-fire ecosystems is an
investment in our future,” says Dr. Norm Christensen, a fire ecologist
and president of ESA. “We should rely heavily on our ability to mimic
nature to promote healthy ecosystems and sustainable ecosystem services,
which benefit all humankind.”

In recent years, new issues have exacerbated the wildfire problem.
Climate change has created desert-like conditions across much of the
central and western U.S., causing fires to burn larger and hotter and
amplifying negative effects on soil quality and ecosystem services.
Alternative approaches to fire suppression, regeneration and salvage
logging have also created management controversies.  The panel will take
a scientific approach to management of these lands and the restoration
of their natural resources after the fires have burned.

The panel consists of three wildfire experts:

*       Dr. Norm Christensen, forest ecologist at Duke University.
Sponsored by ESA.
*       Dr. Dan Neary, soil scientist at the Rocky Mountain Research
Station, U.S. Forest Service. Sponsored by SSSA.
*       Dr. Stephen Swallow, resource economist at the University of
Rhode Island. Sponsored by C-FARE.

Both briefings will take place on Wednesday, July 9. The Senate briefing
will be held in the Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing Room, Senate
Russell Room 328A, at 10 a.m. The House briefing will include lunch and
will be held at noon in room 2325 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

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Christine Buckley, Ph.D.
christine@esa.org
Communications Officer
Ecological Society of America
1990 M St., NW
Suite 700
Washington, DC  20036

phone: 202 833.8773 ext. 211
fax: 202 833.8775

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