Many people think of fire as only being dangerous and destructive to the environment, these beliefs are inaccurate but, not entirely ring, while fire does destroy things to the eye and pollutes the air; it is also feeding the forest.
Although I do not think that the smoke is good for the air, I do however think that the controlled burns are good for the environment in many ways. Fire is a natural resource and forest fires do occur at times simply by nature.When this happens the fire disposes of accumulated debris, it enriches the soil by speeding the nutrient recycle or retard the growth of shrubs or grasses that would otherwise crowd out recently planted seedlings (Yang, 2012). Even though the fire appears to be disastrous, by the following spring, the forest begins nevus growth. The role that fire plays in shaping ecosystem composition, structure and function includes several ecosystem processes like nutrient cycling, vegetation dynamics, bloodhound process and soil processes, and water relations.
The shaping begins by selecting fire adapted species, and “removing other susceptible species, releasing nutrients from the biomass and improving nutrient cycling, affecting soil properties through changing soil microbial activities and water relations, and creating outrageous mosaics, which in turn, can further influence fire behavior and ecological processes” (Chin, 2006, p. 1-2). Despite some of the negatives about fire we must also consider its unique ecological roles within our ecosystem.It is these very reasons why think controlled burns should be incorporated as a component of ecosystem management. Fighting fire with fire has been used by the US forest service since 1 ass’s, for the main purpose of eliminating fuel for wildfires. There is a simple goal behind controlled burns: to thin and remove dense areas of trees, ground vegetation, and thick odd debris in a controlled manor before it becomes fuel to a raging out of control wildfire. In states like California where fires are common, an estimated 1.
1 million acres Of forest that burns annually (Yang, 2012).By implementing controlled burns, today only about six to eight percent of that land is touched by wildfires. It is always a risk when performing a controlled or prescribed burn, but those risks are to be taken with high caution to benefit our land and for the prevention of catastrophic fires that will potentially put our communities in harm’s way. Fire can be deadly to wildlife, biota and timber, and pollute the air with emissions that are harmful to human health. The second largest source of particulate matter comes from forest fires.
It can have significant impacts on the air quality, visibility and human health. The emissions from forest fires can travel great distances therefore affecting human health far from the originating fire (Columbia, 2000). Kind of like burning gasoline in a car, fires release carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. This is harmful when combined with sunlight. It becomes a chemical reaction that can create ground level ozone. This ground level ozone is a harmful air pollutant and is a health hazard. Fire is not the only thing contributes to this.Things like gas powered vehicles, lawn mowers, paints and solvents all contribute.
The summer months when the air is warmer and there are more fires, is when ground level ozone will be of most harm. Particulate matter (PM) is a combination of extremely small complex particles and liquid droplets that are tremendously dangerous to human health. The Environmental Protection Agency’s biggest concern is the size of the particles in the air. Anything that is ten micrometers in diameter can pass through the nose, throat and lungs.If inhaled, it can have serious effects on the heart and lungs and cause other health issues. Studies have found particle pollution exposure linked to: nonfatal heart attacks, premature death in people with heart of lung disease, asthma, decreased lung function, irregular heartbeats and an increase respiratory disease (EPA, 2013). Particle matter is carried long distances by wind and causes environmental damage along the way when it settles in water and on the ground.
The effects of PM titling in water will make the lakes and streams acidic.The nutrient balance in large water basins would change and the nutrients in the soil would be depleted; damaging forests and crops. This would overall affect the diversity of the ecosystem (EPA, 2013). Even though smoke is harmful to us, controlled burns are desired more than uncontrolled wildfires because, they expose people to smoke pollution in small amounts, were wildfires impact the air quality for longer periods of time. Burning to reduce fuel for wildfires for community protection is important. Proper planning and permits are accessory to perform a controlled burn and must be obtained by the fire chief.There are weather variables that must be considered before performing a burn along with properly notifying the neighboring areas.
Fire managers recognize that smoke is a huge concern to the communities. Over the years special measures have been taken to reduce the impact on communities when performing controlled burns. Smoke pollution does occur during a controlled burn but, only for the duration Of the burn. Controlled fires produce low intensity smoke and the impact to the area from smoke is worth term.
In comparison to a wildfire where hazardous fuels have accumulated over years, the smoke will impact the area for week or even months. By using prescribed burns, we can eliminate the large concentrations that cause this kind of effect. There are other ways to help treat highly concentrated areas. For example: many forest areas are treated mechanically. But, this type of treatment is much more expensive and is limited to relatively flat ground. Mechanical treatment has a time when beneficial but, it is not natural and fire dependent species do not benefit from it.