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Smoke from Wildland Fire

Sequoia and Kings Canyon Controlled BurnFires are critical to the health of Sierran forests. Historically, naturally caused fires burned through these forests on fairly regular cycles. Research has shown that sequoia groves, for example, burned about every 5 to 15 years. Fire suppression efforts during this century have interrupted these natural cycles and contributed to less healthy forests. With fewer fires burning through the forests, more and more woody debris piles up on the forest floor. This increase in fuel means that wildfires today are likely to burn hotter, produce more smoke and be more destructive and harder to control than fires in the past.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon Prescribed Fire Effort
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Throughout the National Park Service, carefully planned and controlled burns are being used as tools to reduce unnatural fuel loads and improve ecosystem health. Though allowing forests to burn may seem contradictory to the goal of improving air quality, this may actually not be the case. One way or another, Sierran forests will burn–it is their nature. The plant and animal life evolved with the flames and smoke of lightning fires. If planned carefully and done correctly, prescribed burns produce less smoke overall than wildfires. In the end, it appears that carefully controlled burning may be a step toward achieving both healthier ecosystems and cleaner air.

Next Next - Sustainable Practices...

Air Quality Tour

Click on a choice:

  Smog in the Central Valley

  Clean Air in the Wilderness?

  Ozone Damage

  Ozone and Giant Sequoias

  Air Quality Monitoring

  Smoke from Wildland Fire

  Sustainable Practices

  What You Can Do to Help

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