Typically when you think of wildfire, images of charred lands, large intense flames, and scenes of devastation come to mind. However, fire is a natural and essential part of Sierra Nevada ecosystems. For millions of years fire has been part of the ecosystem. Vegetation has adapted to its presence, some species depend on fire in order to germinate, and others have adapted fire resistant roots; that help the plant grow quickly and spread rapidly after a fire.
Wildfires within California are consuming larger areas, burning with higher intensity, and taking longer to extinguish. Our warm, dry climate is also intensifying, expanding the window of our fire season. Drought in conjunction with fire suppression and high fuel loads create the ideal conditions for severe wildfires. Fuels reduction efforts lower the amount of fuel within an area and change fire behavior. By using methods such as thinning, prescribed fires, and pile burns fuels management teams are able to reintroduce fire to the ecosystem in a controlled manner; lessening the impact if a natural wildfire were to come through the area.
In addition, population is growing rapidly, putting strain on fire fighting forces, as well as on the integrity of these fire-dependent ecosystems. It is paramount that every individual understands the role of fire in maintaining the health of fire adapted ecosystems, as well as begin to adapt their own habits to prepare their properties, and families for the presence of fire.
Read this blog post on Five Ways to Keep Fire on the Agenda. It provides insight on the importance and actions you can take to adapt your habits.
There are 5 components to being a fire adapted community. In combination these elements can prepare your homes, families, and landscape for wildfire. Begin to adapt by learning what these components are and start applying action!
Just Remember ABCDE
ccess - Good access for emergency vehicles
uilt Environment - Appropriate construction materials that resist ignition
ommunity Protection - Well designed fuelbreaks and safe areas
efensible Space - Proper management of vegetation within 100+ feet of the house
vacuation - Having a planned route creates more efficient and safe exit strategy