From: American Society of Agronomy
Published June 21, 2017 01:43 PM

Burn Without Concern

The USDA Forest Service in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area (BWCWA) will continue to use controlled burns without worrying about fish health in associated watersheds, researchers say.

“Fire is a part of this community,” said soil scientist Randall Kolka of the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, one of the lead authors in the study. “By using it you can lessen the chance of wildfire.”

Controlled burns prevent wildfires from ripping through the BWCWA in northern Minnesota. The million-acre area encompasses forested hills, wetlands, over 1,100 lakes, and hundreds of miles of streams. Without occasional burns, fallen trees accumulate like matchsticks, creating the perfect environment for uncontrollable wildfires.

That’s what happened on July 4, 1999 in the BWCWA. Strong winds felled millions of trees on swath from North Dakota all the way to Maine. After this blowdown event, the Forest Service began prescribed burns to prevent future wildfires.

But the Forest Service was concerned about the consequences of prescribed burns on the health of pristine lakes and streams in the area. In addition to the environmental concerns, there are economic ones: the wilderness area attracts over 250,000 visitors a year.

Continue reading at American Society of Agronomy

Image: Wildfires such as the one pictured here in the BWCWA are part of the ecological system. (Credit: Minnesota Incident Command Center)

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