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Wildland Fire Edition
VOLUME 4, NUMBER 1 • USDA FOREST SERVICE
Let’s Clear the Air page 6
Smoke and Mirrors
Time Will Who Tell Gives page 21 a Hoot?
Liar! Liar! House on Fire! page 41
Other scientists The Natural Inquirer Volume 4, No. 1, Spring 2003 highlighted in the journal: Isaac Bertschi Dave Griffith Wildland Fire Edition John Loomis Tim Reinhardt Barbara McDonald Darold Ward USDA Forest Service Research and Development Bill Wirtz Bob Yokelson Washington Office Jean Szymanski USDA Forest Service Southwestern Region Albuquerque, NM USDA Forest Service scientists highlighted in the journal: Ron Babbitt Jan Beyers Jack Cohen Paulette Ford Armando Gonázlez-Cabán Wei Min Hao Roger Ottmar Brian Potter Ron Susott Dale Wade Produced by: USDA Forest Service Dale Bosworth, Chief Research and Development, Washington, DC Robert Lewis, Deputy Chief Resource Valuation and Use Research Staff State and Private Forestry Joel Holtrop, Deputy Chief Conservation Education Staff Denver James, Acting Director With thanks to: Kathleen Cullinan, Ag in the Classroom USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service Washington, DC
John Owens National Interagency Fire Center and Bureau of Land Management Boise, ID Katrina Krause USDA Forest Service Athens, GA Jessica Tanner Atlanta City Public Schools Atlanta, GA Firewise Communities Program Quincy, MA Fire and Aviation Management USDA Forest Service Washington, DC Office of Communication USDA Forest Service Washington, DC USDA Design Center Washington, DC USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station Athens, GA This Natural Inquirer issue is dedicated to the memory of Eugene P. Odum, a great ecologist and educator.
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United States Department of Agriculture
Forest Service FS-692
Editorial Review Board Members of Ms. Jessica Tanner’s 5th grade science class Mary Lin Elementary School Atlanta City Public Schools Atlanta, GA
Teacher’s Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 About the Natural Inquirer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 What Are Scientists? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Welcome to the Natural Inquirer Wildland Fire Edition! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Let’s Clear the Air:
The Danger of Forest Fire Smoke to Firefighters . . . . . . .6
Fighting Fire With Fire:
Protecting the Homes of People and Birds . . . . . . . . . . .15
Time Will Tell:
Does Wildfire Damage the Prairie? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
Who Gives a Hoot?
Determining the Value of Owl Habitat . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
Smoke and Mirrors:
Detecting the Amount of Gases in Wildland Fire Smoke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
Liar! Liar! House on Fire!
The Relationship Between Trees, Wildland Fire, and Damage to Homes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
Which Weather Measurements Are Related to the Occurrence of Wildland Fire? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47
Anja Griffin Emily Burns
Deonte Kimber Ms. Tanner
Student Evaluation Form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 Teacher Evaluation Form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53 Website Connections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 Which National Science Education Standards Can Be Addressed by the Natural Inquirer . . . . . . . . . .56 What Is the USDA Forest Service? . . . . . . . . .Back Cover What Is Agriculture in the Classroom? . . . . . .Back Cover What Is the National Interagency Fire Center? Back Cover
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contain glossaries. are aesthetically pleasing to the inquiry process. the teacher’s manual. The articles understanding of the scientific are easy to understand. At this Web site. such experiences encour. Athens. Please note the ers from Grade 5 and up. an education program of the USDA Forest Service.naturalinquirer.natural inquirer. Barbara McDonald USDA Forest Service 320 Green St. 2 . constantly faced with engaging your students in scientific Science Education inquiry in new and different Standards and Evaluations: ways.plete an article.you will find a matrix that onous to today’s learners. Please make can be used while still in the copies of these evaluation school setting. visit the Natural Inquirer Web site at www. the teacher’s manual. and other resources. The form for teachers to complete Teacher’s Note also. and you want them to gain an higher students. As educators. sample lesson plans. or request a hard copy. the natural environlive in. information about the USDA Forest Service. You and your students may also complete the forms online by visiting www. In an age of abundant In the back of the journal.gov. sample lesson plans. word games. If you have any questions or comments. download it.usda. and inquiry can best be taught by include hands-on activities. integrating minds-on and The goal of the Natural hands-on experiences. gov.usda. technology.Natural Inquirer contains articles describing environmental and natural resource research conducted by USDA Forest Service scientists and their cooperators. This journal was created by Conservation Education Research and Development. GA 30602-2044 706.naturalinquirer.Inquirer is to stimulate critical age students to independently reading and thinking about formulate and seek answers to scientific inquiry and investiquestions about the world we gation while learning about ecology. You will also find a view of the outside world bigger than the classroom that evaluation forms in the back of the journal. please contact: Dr. word games. you will also find previous issues of the Natural Inquirer.usda. standard teaching strategies can become monot. you want your students to acquire tific journal articles that have abilities that will enable them been reformatted to meet the needs of middle school and to conduct scientific inquiry. Please send the evaluation forms to the address listed at the end of the forms. Scientific eye. The allows you to identify articles by the national science educaNatural Inquirer provides a fresh approach to science and tion standards that they address. and other resources. information about the USDA Forest Service. forms and have your students The Natural Inquirer is a complete them after they comscience education resource journal to be used with learn.559. These are scienAs teachers of science.4224 barmac@bigfoot. Visit www. Over time. you are ment. and natural resources.com Teacher’s Manual: To read the teacher’s manual online.gov for previous issues of the Natural Inquirer.
was creat.usda. To be a successful environmental scientist. This journal. USDA Forest Service. • Be careful —You must be accurate in everything that you do. Don’t forget to look at the glossary with you and other middle school students. These quesvisit the Natural Inquirer Web site at tions are not a test! They should help you to www. Then you will read something special about science and about the natural environment. • Be enthusiastic —You must be interested in an environmental topic. All of the research in this Natural Inquirer think more about the research. In each arti. 3 at work. Each article tells you about scientific research and the special sections highlighted in each article. study the natural environment. Then. you can read about it on the back cover of this journal.naturalinquirer. You will also read Scientists report their research in journals. About the Natural Inquirer What Are Scientists? Scientists are people who • Question everything — collect and evaluate inforYou must think about mation about a wide range what you read and of topics.may use these questions in a class discussion. you will “meet the scientist” who conducted the research. At the end of each section of the article. the Natural Inquirer. • Be open minded —You must be willing to listen to new ideas. or you can you will find a few questions to help you think about what you have read. . This is writwhich are special booklets that enable scien. about a specific research project. you Scientists in this issue must: • Be curious —You must be interested in learning. If you want to know more about the mation about wildland fire.ten in the format that scientists use when they publish their research in journals.cle.YOU will become the scientist when you conduct the FACTivity associated with each ed so that scientists can share their research article. tists to share information with one another. Some scientists observe. Your teacher is concerned with wildland fires. These sections give you extra inforconducted by scientists in the USDA Forest Service.gov.
They are learning. Wildland fires may start naturally or they may be started by human activity. open environments such as prairies eventually become covered with trees. This program teaches people that live in forested communities how to keep their homes safe from wildfires. You can read some of their tips on page 46 of this journal. built. Wildland fires are interesting. and you can visit www.org for more information. making them available to new plants. If a wildfire then begins to burn. the nutrients from the plants are released into the soil. and report the fire to an adult. To keep this from happening. the thick growth of plants near the ground level provides a lot of potential fuel. When fires are not allowed to burn occasionally in the wildlands. it seems. you should never play with matches or with fire. that wildland fire should not be completely eliminated from natural environments. on prairies. We hope that you enjoy learning about it too! Is Your Community Firewise? homes and communities. They are typically started by lightning or by a careless human act. As you have always heard. we thought that most wildland fires were bad. Many plants need occasional fire to reproduce. A Firewise home and community is one that is designed. and they are fun to learn about. They are learning about the relationship between wildland fires and global warming. To help people create Firewise Firewise Communities program was created. and fire offers other benefits to the natural environment. Even though wildland fire can be beneficial to the environment. We now know that wildland fire is neither good or bad.Welcome to the Wildland Fire Edition of the Natural Inquirer ! Wildland fires have been in the news a lot. as well as some of its dangers. when fire burns decaying branches and stumps. by trying to eliminate wildland fire in the past. or over other large natural areas. all of the scientists in this journal enjoy learning about wildland fire. Every year. the No forested community is completely safe from wildfire. controlled fires that burn the fuel that is close to the ground. and make certain that it is completely put out before you leave it. for example. This edition of the Natural Inquirer is all about wildland fire. no matter where it is. it is always dangerous. and we tried to stop these fires from burning. They are learning how to best protect homes and other buildings from wildfires. If you see an uncontrolled fire burning. land managers can start small. we hear about more frequent and more severe wildland fires. They are learning how to predict which weather conditions most favor a wildfire being started. For example. it is simply a natural part of the environment. it burns hotter and faster because of the extra fuel. 5 . Wildland fires are fires that burn in forests. immediately get away from the fire. And they are learning about how wildland fires can benefit the natural environment. As you will see when you read the articles. but we can be wise about how our homes and communities are designed and built. Wildfires are large. but it should be managed. You will learn about the benefits of wildland fire. Thus. These fires are called managed fires or prescribed fires.firewise. Without fire. You will learn what fire scientists are learning about wildland fire. In the past. and maintained to withstand a wildfire without the help of the fire department. we have actually enabled larger fires to burn. uncontrolled wildland fires that usually burn large areas of land. Never leave a campfire unattended.
planets. and a temperature that is neither too hot nor too .Let’s Clear the Air: Glossary: forest managers (för est man ij ürs): Skilled individuals that take care of natural resources. relationship (re la shun ship): When two or more things are connected in some fashion. he or she is trying to solve an immediate to help forest managers to become better stewards of the problem. conduct basic science. water. for example. for example. These categories ate problem. When a scientist conducts basic science. air. scientist because When a scientist conducts I can provide new knowledge and develop tools applied science. the results of research can be applied to an immedicategories. data (da tuh): Facts or figures studied in order to make a conclusion. etc. They also wanted to find an easy Science Science can be way for firefighters to determine those risks. scale (skal): A series of marks along a line. rather than diate problem. comets. In applied classified into two very broad science. fire managers (fir man uh jürs): People whose job it is to prevent or control wildland fires. with regular spaces in between. Pronunciation Guide a ä e i o as in ape as in car as in me as in ice as in go ô u ü oo ng as in for as in use as in fur as in tool as in sing The Danger of Forest Fire Smoke to Firefighters are called basic science and applied science. Reinhardt: Accented syllables are in bold. stewards (stoo ürds): People that take care of large areas of land. sample (sam pul): A part or piece that shows what the whole group or thing is like. In the USDA Forest Service. This includes. the scientists wanted to measure land. average (av rij): The number determined by dividing the sum of two or more quantities by the number of quantities added. I also learn more about what is true. Thinking About the Environment The natural environment provides humans and other animals with what we need to live. Astronomers. he I like being a or she is working on answerscientist because ing a question that adds to our I get to solve knowledge but may not hard problems directly help to solve an immefor people. are scientists that what is thought to be true. some of the health risks from Thinking About fighting wildland fires. most of Meet Mr. 7 Meet Mr. Ottmar: the research conducted is in I like being a the applied science category. used for measuring. analyze (an uh liz): To separate something into its parts in order to examine them. In this study. astronomers (uh staw no mürs): Scientists that study the stars.
but they work for longer periods of time. being started. or solid forms. Firefighters the kind that firefighters are able to control within hours of at a fire. They are the various lengths of time (figemergency crews of firefightures 1 and 2). Sometimes. The containers hung measure the danger smoke tion. but often they are caused by careless human action. to control. In this study. however. the air might be dangerous to breathe.more hours at a time. carbon monoxide can also cause people to become men. Reflection Section • What is the problem the scientists were trying to solve? • Do you think that this problem is important? Why or why not? Method . parts of the natural environment can pose a danger to humans and other living things. The scieners that collected samples of breathing wildland fire smoke tists in this study wanted to include eye and throat irritasmoke. but do equipment to wear. The danger can be natural. or can be caused by human activity. Sometimes. shortness of breath. The second kind is called a project wildfire. for example. however. These chemicals can be and breathe in a lot of smoke. When firefighters fight a wildfire. The equipter that are small enough to be not usually get as close to the ment included three containbreathed in. When humans pollute the air.wanted to find an easier way When firefighters went to a 8 cold. parts of the natural environment can become dangerous for humans and other living things. a group of gases a few hours or days. as when a volcano or flood occurs. but they work for short periods of time. They usually work The chemicals that cause the short amount of time. When firefighters fight fires. but typically only do so for a to put out.and even months. Some firefightIntroduction ers are sent to a wildfire when ing. wildfires work close to the they are exposed to smoke for fire. they might breathe in harmful chemicals contained in the smoke. The first kind is called an initial attack wildfire. poses to firefighters. Firefighters at project Smoke from wildland fires it first starts. firefighters fight the fire for ers special battery-powered and tiny particles of solid mat. for fire managers to estimate the danger from breathing in the dangerous chemicals found in wildland fire smoke. Wildfires are wildland fires that can start naturally from events like lightning. The effects of flames or smoke. the scientists studied the danger of the smoke coming from wildfires to humans. They also on the firefighter’s chest. sid) gas (CO). Breathing in Project wildfires take days. headaches. dizziness.The scientists collected data from two kinds of wildfires. and it is Figures 1 and 2. These The scientists gave firefightcalled aldehydes (äl duh hidz). Firefighters at initial attack tally confused. liquids. You can see that the natural environment provides support for humans and other life most of the time. for fighting the fires because they are so large and difficult gases. and nau. These firefighters wildfires take more time and have to develop specific plans contains hundreds of chemiare closer to the actual fire cals. Other farther away from the actual most hazard to human health firefighters fight fires that are carbon monoxide (mä näk have been burning for at least fire. sea (nä ze uh).
The scientists also asked people working near the fires to estimate how much smoke firefighters were breathing in. Classification of how much forest fire smoke was in the air. sending smoke in their direction. Second. While they were fighting the fire. They gave them a scale from 1 to 5. Table 1. One hundred and twenty-nine firefighters wore the equipment that collected the smoke samples (table 1). instead of on their backs? • What is the difference between the average and the maximum amount of something? Why do you think that the scientists wanted to know both of these measures? Findings The scientists measured the smoke for 30 days of wildfires. they wanted to know the maximum amount of dangerous chemicals that were breathed in at any one time. and asked them to assign a number to the smoke at different times (figure 3). First. Initial attack firefighters were in danger from smoke when they had to surround a fire quickly. This is because they usually put the fire out very quickly. When carbon monoxide levels rose. they wanted to know the average amount of different dangerous chemicals the firefighters breathed in during the time that they were fighting fires. except for in some cases. they hung this equipment on the outside of their firefighting suits. so did the levels of aldehydes and the amount of tiny particles of solid matter being breathed in (figure 4). Type of Wildfire Initial Attack Project Total for All Fires Number of Days 13 17 30 9 Number of Firefighters 45 84 129 . These are the emergency firefighters that try to control a wildfire shortly after it starts. Fortunately. Firefighters were in danger from smoke when the wind was facing them. Firefighters were also in danger from smoke when they spent long periods of time putting out smoldering stumps and logs. Over Figure 3. Reflection Section • Why do you think that the containers were hung on the firefighters’ chests. Results of smoke samples collections. NUMBER 1 2 3 4 5 SMOKE CONDITIONS None Light Medium Heavy Very heavy the 30 days. these firefighters do not spend much time in smoky conditions. The scientists discovered that there is a close relationship between the amount of different dangerous chemicals in smoke. The scientists were interested in two measurements. there was not much danger to firefighters from breathing smoke. how many samples were collected from each firefighter?) The scientists discovered that.fire. (On the average. the equipment automatically collected the smoke.763 samples were collected by the scientists. 1. The scientists took the smoke samples to their laboratories to analyze the smoke.
Light smoke. Very Heavy smoke. the amount of particles in the smoke rose also. Medium smoke. the equipment measured a high level of dangerous chemicals (figures 5-9). Rating of 3 Figure 8. Heavy smoke. there were not many dangerous Rating of 2 chemicals measured by the equipment. When a person gave the smoke a high rating. when a person gave Figure 6. In other words. Rating of 1 What do you think the scientists discovered about people’s ability to estimate the amount of smoke occurring near a wildfire? They found that people working near a wildfire were able to accurately estimate how smoky the conditions were. Figure 7. 7 Particulate matter breathed in (milligrams per cubic meter) 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 Carbon monoxide concentration in parts per million (ppm) Figure 5. When carbon monoxide levels rose. the smoke a low rating. No smoke.Figure 4. Rating of 5 . Rating of 4 10 Figure 9.
firemethod you will use to answer fighters should limit the this question is: Examine the amount of time they are photographs in figures 5-9 of breathing the smoke. . Would you say that you are consistent. Use the form on page 13 to record the number of ratings for each photograph. For each photograph. Forest Service. or mixed? What is it about the bar charts that tells you that? From Reinhardt. For each photograph. Evaluating the bar charts should tell you how consistent you and your classmates are in your ratings of the amount of smoke from wildland fire photographs. Smoke exposure at western wildfires. the article above. D. R. After everyone is finished. 11 Photograph # Rating (1-5) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 nominate someone to record the ratings on the blackboard. they do so The question occasionally. and Ottmar. Department of Agriculture. Write your rating in the form beside the correct number for each photograph. Because people FACTivity is: can estimate how smoky the How consisconditions are. the amount of danger Next. in the smoke. record every student’s rating. Res. Portland. PNW-RP-525. OR: U.Each student will take a piece ment to measure the amount of paper and create the form of carbon monoxide in the at the top of the next column.from a wildland fire? The ditions are too smoky. T. By using equip. not consistent. Now count the number of times each rating was given. do training fireyou think that fighters to estithere will ever be much mate the danger from danger for firefighters from smoky conditions over breathing smoke? Why or using equipment to measure why not? the amount of dangerous • Why do you think that it is chemicals in smoke? important to know that • What are the disadvantages when one dangerous chemiof having firefighters estical is measured in the mate the danger from smoke. Pay particuEquipment should also be lar attention to the amount of used that measures the smoke in the photograph and amount of carbon monoxide the rating assigned to each.Reflection Section Reflection Section • Based on the • What are the results of this advantages of research. Pacific Northwest Research Station. Pap. firefighters tently can you should be trained to determine and your classmates estimate when the conditions are too the amount of smoke coming smoky and dangerous. E. This especially you will answer happens when a wildfire has in this just started. smoke. there are other dansmoky conditions comgerous chemicals as well? pared to using equipment to measure the amount of dangerous chemicals in smoke? Implications Although firefighters do not usually breathe in dangerous FACTivity amounts of smoke.S. 72 p. each student will look from many chemicals can be at the photographs on the determined. If con. next page and rate the amount of smoke in each one from 1-5. you can create a bar chart (see example on page 13). (2000).
Photograph #1 Photograph #2 Photograph #3 Photograph #4 Photograph #5 Photograph #6 Photograph #7 Photograph #8 Photograph #9 Photograph #10 Photograph #11 12 Photograph #12 .
Never re-enter a burning building. drop. 5. 6. If your clothing catches on fire. of 5’s Example of bar chart Number of ratings given 12 10 8 6 4 2 1 Photograph 1 3 4 Ratings 1 = No smoke. stop. 5 = Very heavy smoke 2 5 Fire Safety Tips Here are some tips from the Arkansas Fire Prevention Commission (kuh mish un) to help keep you safe from uncontrolled fires in your home: 1. of 4’s No. of 1’s No. Plan a place to meet outside of your home. Do not run. 13 4. 7. of 2’s No. DON’T stop to get valuables. and roll. . Plan two escape routes out of your home and practice using them. Call for help. Be sure you can open all doors and windows from the inside. 2. 3.Photograph # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 16 14 No. of 3’s No. Call the fire department AFTER you have left the building.
Smokey was just a character drawn on posters asking people to help prevent forest fires. They called this cub “Smokey. They named this bear “Smokey” after “Smokey Joe” Martin. 14 . be brown or black. Over the years. the only liv- ing thing the firefighters saw was a badly burned bear cub clinging to a blackened tree. After the fire passed and the smoke cleared. They also wanted him to wear a ranger hat and blue jeans. This was the start of a terrible forest fire. This bear was to have a short nose. cigarette.” and he became the first living symbol of Smokey Bear. When Smokey’s burns healed. he was sent to live at the National Zoo in Washington. and he is buried near his original home in southern New Mexico at Smokey Bear State Park. Until 1950. and have a face that looked smart and friendly. So the USDA Forest Service began a program to make everyone aware of the dangers of forest fires. DC. Smokey died in 1976.The Story of Smokey Bear When a Japanese submarine shelled the southern California coast during World War II. Then in 1950. The little bear was taken to the ranger station. They wanted an animal to represent forest fire prevention and they decided on a bear. where people bandaged his burned paws and helped him to become healthy again. people were worried that more attacks might start forest fires. someone was careless with a match. a fire chief from the New York City Fire Department. or campfire in the Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico. thousands of people from around the world came to see Smokey Bear.
land management (land man ij ment): Decisions and actions involving natural lands to achieve specific purposes. scrub (skrub): An area with short, stubby trees or bushes. mammals (mam uls): Warmblooded animals that have a backbone; Female mammals have glands to produce milk for feeding their young. ecologist (e käl uh jist): A person who studies the relationship between living things and their environment. habitat (hab uh tat): Environment where a plant or animal naturally grows and lives. threatened (threh tend): Legal term meaning the existence of the species is likely to become endangered in the future.
Fighting Fire with Fire:
Protecting the Homes of People and Birds
Meet Dr. Beyers:
I like being a scientist because I never get tired of asking questions and trying to answer them. The questions I like to answer are things like, “Why do plants and animals live where they do?” and “How do human activities and land management decisions affect animals living in the wild?” Plus, I get to run around in the woods and the scrub and wear jeans all the time! 15
species (spe sez): Groups of organisms that resemble one another in appearance, behavior, chemical processes, and genetic structure. wildfire (wild fir): An uncontrolled wildland fire started naturally or by careless human action. climate (kli met): The average condition of the weather at a place. nonnative (nän na tiv): Not naturally occurring in an area. adapt (uh dapt): To change so as to fit new conditions. randomly (ran dum le): A way of selecting a smaller number from a group in such a way that all members of the group have the same chance of being selected. extinction (ik stin(k) shun): No longer existing. conserve (kän sürv): To avoid wasteful or destructive use of something. consensus (kän sen sus): Agreement of all or most.
a ä e i o as in ape as in car as in me as in ice as in go ô u ü oo ng as in for as in use as in fur as in tool as in sing
Accented syllables are in bold.
Figure 1. California gnatcatcher 2,200 pairs of gnatcatchers. (What percentage of the gnatMeet Dr. Wirtz: catcher pairs were killed? I like being a scientist because ever since childhood I Divide 330 by 2,200 to find out.) The scientists wanted to have loved mammals and know how any future fires birds and the outdoors. By would affect the remaining training to be an ecologist, I birds. have a career that allows me When scientists begin to to study the things I love most. I can also work outdoors, and study a problem, they always travel to places like Africa and learn as much as possible about their subject. They do Australia. this by going to the library, just like you do when you Thinking About Science write a class paper for school. The scientists found out that The natural people do not know very world holds much about what the gnatmany secrets. catchers eat and where they Although scilive. As you can see, scientists entists study just about everything you can learn not just from observing things and doing experiments, think of, there is still a lot to they also learn by reading and learn. In this study, the scienstudying. tists wanted to learn about the habitat of the California Thinking About gnatcatcher, a small grey bird the that lives in a particular area Environment along the coast of California Along the (figure 1). This little bird is central and listed as threatened by the southern pacific U.S. Government. In 1993, a coastline of California, there is wildfire burned 10,000 an area of land that has a lot hectares of land. (To figure of different kinds of shrubs out how many acres this is, multiply 10,000 X 2.47.) The growing on it. Altogether, these shrubs are called coastal wildfire killed 330 of the 16
sage scrub (figure 2). The climate in this area is hot and dry, and the shrubs usually do not grow higher than 2 meters. (Calculate how many feet this is by multiplying 2 X 3.28.) By the end of the summer, the shrubs become dry and brittle from the hot summer sun, and they often lose their leaves from the heat. The southern California coastal area is a place where people like to live and work, mainly because the weather is warm there all year, and the ocean is not far away. When people build houses and businesses on land, they change the land. When people build houses and businesses on land with coastal sage scrub, they remove the shrubs and replace them with buildings, roads and parking lots, and grass and other nonnative plants. This might not seem bad for people, but it is not good news to the California gnatcatcher. This little bird needs coastal sage scrub to reproduce. When people change the land, they almost always affect the plants and animals that live there.
The California gnatcatcher is a little bird with a big problem. Its habitat has been reduced 80 percent by people that are building homes and businesses in coastal southern California. The bird’s habitat consists of shrubs that can become very dry and brittle, especially during the summer. Wildfires are more likely to
Because the gnatcatcher is a threatened species that lives only in coastal sage scrub areas, it is important to protect as much of its habitat as possible.
• What question are the scientists trying to answer? • Do you think that prescribed burns help or hurt gnatcatchers? Why or why not? Figure 2. Coastal sage scrub.
The scientists drew a line on can more easily put it out. The a map around the area with occur when shrubs are dry scientists in this study wanted coastal sage scrub in southern and brittle. When a wildfire to know how these purposely California (figure 4). Then, on burns an area of coastal sage scrub, the gnatcatchers cannot set fires, called prescribed (pre the map, they identified smaller areas within the larger area use the area for about 5 years skribd) fires, affect the California gnatcatcher. to study. They wanted to (figure 3). They have to live somewhere else until most of the shrubs grow back. People that live and work close to areas of coastal sage scrub can also be hurt by wildfires. Wildfires sometimes damage or destroy their homes and businesses. Although wildfires cannot always be prevented, there is a lot that people can do to reduce the strength of a fire. Have you ever heard the term “fighting fire with fire”? That’s exactly what people do to reduce the threat of a wildfire. They purposely set fires in areas without letting the Figure 3. Coastal sage scrub still recovering after a fire. fire get too big or out of conCompare this photograph with the photograph in figure 2. trol. That way, if a wildfire gets started, it will not have as In the area pictured here, there is not enough scrub for gnatmuch fuel to burn, and people catchers to live and reproduce. 17
they are more then used as nutrients by likely to be damaged by a plants. gnatcatchers would scientists only sometimes go into the area studied five with less vegetation to look study places throughout the areas within the larger area for food. 200 specific points were randomly identified. making it easier to put out the wildfire. growth. Some of these areas had been recently burned and others had not been burned.28. The scientists selected insects do not live in areas areas where gnatcatchers were • Look at figure 4. it is not always the to protect homes and at the same time get the benefits of fire. Many people build their Many plants cannot reproduce homes in areas in or near a for. such their buds or cracks their as a prairie or in coastal sage seeds. Fire helps release needed scrub. Fire opens shaded areas wildfire. What large city is included in the with less vegetation. think that the tion. When fires are purposely set as part of land management. Figure 4. California gnatcatchers prefer to live in areas that have more than 50 percent of the ground covered in coastal sage scrub.Fire Facts best thing for the land. Findings . which are in these areas. so of coastal sage scrub? Why The scientists suspect that they selected areas near the would they not study the gnatcatchers need areas with ocean and farther inland (figentire area? more vegetation because ure 4). When homes are built minerals in the soil. allowing sunlight want people that manage the in and encouraging new land to put out all wildfires. At each point. Area where coastal Reflection multiply 1 X 3. These fires reduce the amount of burnable material available if there is a large wildfire. Insects known to live and areas where coastal sage scrub area? are the gnatcatcher’s main no gnatcatchers had been living. If an area had less than 40 percent of the ground covered in shrubs. Many homeowners in the forest. Managers can purposely set controlled fires every few years. the type of coastal sage scrub or other vegetation was identified and the height of the vegetation was recorded. 18 As you can see in figure 4. the land gets the benefits of fire and human communities are protected. Coastal sage scrub had to be at least 1 meter high in an area for gnatcatchers to live there. (To find out how many feet this is. most aniAlthough putting out wildfires mals avoid being burned in a seems to be good for homefire. five areas were studied. Fortunately. Many lands need fire to be healthy. area of coastal sage scrub. In addition.until heat from a fire opens est or other natural area. Within each of the 5 areas.) If an area sage scrub grows (dark Section with less vegetation was close green) and areas studied • Why do you to an area with more vegeta(white birds). there is a way owners. gnatcatchers did not live there.
) that the habitat much more important than • Why do you think that of the conserving the habitat of a gnatcatchers cannot live in California gnat. This posely setting fire in the must be done by frequently natural areas near buildings burning areas of coastal sage Implications protects those buildings The California gnatcatcher’s scrub surrounding people’s from wildfires? habitat is reduced when peohomes. California gnatcatchers cannot live in an area that has been burned until about 5 years following the fire. but it takes them about 5 years to grow 1 meter high. if a wildfire does occur in the coastal sage scrub. The shrubs can grow back. One way to do that is to set prescribed fires in the coastal sage scrub areas that are close to buildings. The two discussion groups should meet separately for at least 10-15 minutes to develop an argument to support their position. If this burning takes ple build homes.bird. we should let nature take its course. we can then go into the coastal sage scrub areas and put the fire out. If a wildfire occurs. Group 2: When people build homes in areas that are likely to have wildfires. After fire burns an area of coastal sage scrub. the shrubs are burned to the ground. Coastal sage scrub with buildings nearby. The fire will burn most of the fuel away. We should leave these areas alone. ings. Each discussion group meter? (Hint: Reflection will take one of the following You can find Section positions: out by reading the • Do you think Group 1: People’s homes are “Findings” section. other buildaway a threatened bird’s habitat. they take the chance that their homes will be burned by a wildfire. an area that has been catcher should be conTherefore. that is the way it has to be. FACTivity . Once buildings are built near coastal sage scrub. Then. and parking lots in areas of coastal sage scrub (figure 5). people want to reduce the risk of wildfire to those buildings. Until then.The question you will try to answer with this FACTivity is: What should be done when the habitat of a threatened bird is in conflict with the safety of people’s homes? The method you will use to try to Reflection answer this question is: Divide Section your class into two discussion • How many groups and one decision feet are in 1 group.amount of fuel available. wildfires must be burned until about 5 years served? Why or why not? controlled by reducing the after the fire? • How do you think that pur. even if it is threatened. 19 source of food. One person should be appointed the spokesperFigure 5. roads. it will not be able to reach any buildings.
The decision-making group may choose parts of more than one option when making their decision. Before fires are started on purpose. the first two groups will each present their argument to the third group. If trees are too crowded. 1995. and it is divided into two houses. Will they vote and allow the majority to rule? Will they insist on consensus? Will one person make the decision for everyone else? After the 15 minutes has passed. This FACTivity is similar to the process communities across the United States take to decide on a course of action. the amount of moisture in the trees. weather forecasts. 20 . O. Vegetative characteristics of coastal sage scrub sites used by California gnatcatchers: Implications for management in a fire-prone ecosystem. Land managers only prescribe fire when the weather conditions are right. humidity. The decision-making group will then make a decision. Many communities have locally elected commissions (kuh mish uns) that serve as the decisionmakers. and another person should record what the group members say during their discussion. II. In: Proceedings: Fire Effects on Rare and Endangered Species and Habitats Conference. if there are too many dead leaves and branches on the forest floor. and the types of trees and plants. The prescription describes what the condition of the forest should be after burning. L. While the two discussion groups are developing their arguments. 81-89 Fire Facts: Writing a Prescription for Fire When you are sick and go to the doctor. and explain why and how they made their decision. Prescribed fire (a fire that is started on purpose) works in a similar way. Burning begins only when conditions are right. W. The third group will make the decisions. the forest may need help from fire. J. What is the name of the body that makes these kinds of decisions for the United States as a whole? (Hint: It is made up of people elected from across the United States. (1997). the forest conditions have to be measured to see if they meet the prescription for that type of forest. wind speed. Coeur d’ Alene. and Wirtz. firefighters reduce the flames or put the fire out. But why start a fire on purpose? Fire is one way to help restore health to a forest.) From: Beyers. or if insects and disease have become widespread. Factors to consider are the locations of homes and other buildings. Long before a fire is lit. If the weather conditions change quickly or the fire does something unexpected. prescriptions are made for different types and locations of forests. the third group must decide how they will choose a course of action. Note: People often disagree about the best course of action to take to solve a problem. Idaho: November 13-15. the doctor might prescribe medicine or some other action to help you to become healthy again. This group will decide which course of action to take based on the presentations of the other two groups.son for the group.
write. Act of taking such food. the natural environment immediately after the experiment was over. she observed it again after more than 12 months. should the problem be studied over a period of years? The scientist in this study observed the impact of her experiment on 21 land managers (land man ij ürs): Skilled individuals that take care of natural resources. Over how long a period should the problem be studied? Should the problem be studied over an hour’s time? For 1 week? Or. wildfire (wild fir): An uncontrolled wildland fire started naturally or by careless human action. species (spe sez): Groups of organisms that resemble one another in appearance. evolved (e volvd): Developed by gradual changes. sample (sam pul): Part or piece that shows what the whole group or thing is like. Ford: I like being a scientist because I love to read. Pronunciation Guide a ä e i o as in ape as in car as in me as in ice as in go ô u ü oo ng as in for as in use as in fur as in tool as in sing Accented syllables are in bold. prairie (prair e): Large areas of grasslands with fertile soils and few trees. One decision a natural resource scientist must make has to do with time. and genetic structure. When a scientist decides to study a problem. Do you think that the natural area had changed during the time that she observed it? Do you think that her conclusions about the experiment changed over that period of time? Why or why not? . he or she must make many decisions. She also observed the same natural area 1 year later. forage (for ij): Food for animals usually taken by browsing or grazing. Then. and I have fun learning about our planet Earth and how it works. behavior. Does Wildfire Damage the Prairie? Thinking About Science There are many ways to investigate a question or problem. chemical processes.Time Will Tell: Glossary ecosystem (e ko sis tem): Community of plant and animal species interacting with one another and with the nonliving environment. and explore. rodent (ro dent): An animal having sharp front teeth for gnawing. live-traps (liv traps): Devices used to trap an animal without harming it. Meet Dr.
multiply 160 X prairie is resilient to fire. sand. When the why not? flood plain is not disturbed by human activities. That way. An example of a affect the type of animals that resilient (re zil yent) ecosystem there is no forage for cattle.Fire Facts Fire was a normal occurrence in most plant-based ecosystems in the United States. (To find out how many wanted to know whether a acres this is. does a wildfire yentz). Forbs are low-growing plants with broad leaves. so that the grasses will grow back during the summer growing season. thescientist. every 5 to 10 years a fire would naturally occur. The tallgrass prairie grew in parts of Nebraska. These woody plants. not wait long enough after a fire had burned to determine whether the fire had changed the prairie. would have shaded out and killed the grasses and forbs. Overall. When a wild. shrubs. prairie to fire? Another example is a flood • Do you think that prairies plain. The tallgrass prairie is mostly grasses and forbs. the flat land area on are resilient to fire? Why or either side of a river. a She thought that people did how would you sandy beach is resilient to study the storms and does not change resilience of a very much in the long run. They set these fires in April. however. such as trees. What are other examples of resilience? 22 . Iowa. had they grown. the tion to immediately killing the is called resilience (re zil grass is killed immediately and prairie’s plants. and even thrive under the effects of fire. woody plants grow and replace the grasses and forbs. When fires are not allowed to burn in a tallgrass prairie. These fires were probably started by lightning. Thinking About the Environment Ecosystems are not the only things that may be resilient to a sudden crisis. the beach may change its changed by fire. thought that prairies were When a storm or a hurricane Reflection Section hits. in the long Method run it does not change very The scientist studied an area much when the river overof prairie in New Mexico that flows its banks during a flood. This characteristic cattle (figure 1). and Kansas. many people is a natural sandy beach. Land managers purposely set fire to prairie ecosystems about every 2 or 3 years. live on the prairie? Because of this. The fire would kill the woody plants that had begun to grow. The scientist in this study believed that • If you were shape by losing or gaining prairies are resilient to fire. A prairie. and most vines. covered 160 hectares (figure The scientist in this study 2). The plants in these ecosystems evolved to resist fire. the prairie ecosystem will continue into the future.er after a wildfire? 3) In addifire burns across a prairie. Figure 1. Illinois. In the past. An example of an ecosystem that needs fire is the tallgrass prairie. The questions the One possible scientist wanted to answer characteristic of are: 1) How does wildfire an ecosystem is Introduction change a prairie? 2) How long Prairies are grasslands that the ability to withstand a suddoes it take a prairie to recovare often used as forage for den crisis without changing very much.
A research assistant purposely setting fire to an area of prairie. as Figure 2. The last four areas were left unburned. 2. she released the rodent back into the area.Utah 37° 109° Longitud Colorado e Latitude Arizona 108° 107 ° 106° 10 30' 5° 104° 10 3° 36° Oklahom 30' Los Alamos a 35° 30' Albuquerque 34° 30' 33° 30' 32° Carlsbad Tex Figure 3. and seconds ("). Beetles that can be found living on the prairie. she did not allow the fire to burn more than the sample area. The scientist measured these six things five different times (table 1). Longitude also consists of imaginary lines around the Earth. 5) How many different species of rodents were living in the area (figure 5). color. Map of New Mexico with lines of latitude and longitude. Four more areas were burned in July. The scientist used these unburned areas to compare with the burned areas. Both latitude and longitude are identified by degrees (°). The scientist observed and measured six things. 2) What kind of grasses were growing in the area. Each line of longitude circles the Earth through both the North and South Pole. When the scientist burned the areas. 3) How many different species of beetles were living in the area (figure 4). See if you can locate where in New Mexico the scientist conducted her study. the grasses were in the middle of their growing season. . After she put a numbered tag on the rodent’s ear and took body measurements (such as weight. and sex). 31' latitude north.47.) Within this area. These lines are used to identify locations on the Earth. How many rodents of each species were living there. In July. Figure 4. This was before the prairie grasses had begun their spring growth. the scientist marked off 12 separate sample areas that covered 2 hectares each. minutes ('). The study area for this project was 36°. 103° 3' longitude west. 23 Clemson University Department of Entomology Cooperative Extension Service. The scientist used live-traps to catch the rodents. 4) How many beetles of each species were living there. The six things she measured were: 1) What percentage of the ground was covered by prairie grass. Four of these areas were purposely burned in April of 1997 (figure 3). Latitude consists of imaginary lines around the Earth from the equator to the poles.
there was still much less there were 115 species of bee. By 1. Thirteen-lined ground squirrel. most of the rodents were northern grasshopper mice.5 years after the fires. the number and variety of beetles was the same as the unburned areas. and grasshopper mouse.5 years after the fire. the grass in years? those areas had grown back and looked like the grass in Findings unburned areas. the number and variety of rodents was similar to the unburned areas. the scientist found nine total species of rodents living in the Bill Gannon Reflection Section Immediately after the fires. however. thirteen-lined ground • Why do you squirrels. By 2. For 2 years following the up 90 percent of the beetles living there. the scientist noted that the number and variety of rodents had been reduced. the number of beetles increased. Period 1 2 3 4 5 Date March 1997 (Before any areas were burned) April-June 1997 (After the first set of areas were burned) July-October 1997 (After the second set of areas were burned) July-October 1998 (1 year after the second set of areas were burned) October 1999 (Over 2 years after the second set of areas were burned) areas.Table 1. (How by 2.5 years following the fires.5 years after the fires. The areas Before any areas were that were burned in July also burned.5 years following the fires. the scientist found that 10 species of beetles made lost their grass cover after the fire. however.grass cover in those areas than in unburned areas. However. tles living in the areas. The dates that the scientist took measurements. Reflection Section • By 2. however. the grass cover in the burned areas was killed. fire. Each of the 12 scientist put a areas had about the same numbered tag on each rodent’s ear before number and variety of beetles and rodents. or plains harvest think that the mice (figure 5). many beetle species made up the last 10 percent?) Although those areas once again looked like unburned areas. By after 1 year and after 2 July. Up to 1. plains harvest mouse. what had happened to the areas of prairie that had been burned? • What happened to the areas immediately after the fires? Bill Gannon Figure 5. Overall. releasing him or her? Immediately after the April • Why do you think that the scientist took measurements fires. 24 .
Record your observations is the case for judging whether gernails resilient using the form on the next page. P. andIn: Ecosystems and Pp. the Discovery prairie is not resilient to fire. Vol 10. Boston. your own judgments. For example. when making a judgment about an event.ples of resilience in your classroom and outside your classroom window. Series: Advances in Ecological friend or you make a lower groups. C. resilient to fire. L. your judgment may change.disthe prairie is resilient to fire. estimate the amount of Implications time it takes for the resilience The judgments that people to show. people should always remember that the judgment may change. which is resilient to being cut. prairie. Each group will take Sciences. Think about method you will use to answer resilience. or for the thing to make about something may appear as it did before the depend upon the length of Reflection sudden change occurred. to breakage? Now. you will answer fire resilience in Yellowstone National Park. and J-L Uso you have an argument with a classroom into three or four (eds. compare the lists that Immediately after a fire. prairies are resilient to fire. What prairie looks very different. ecosystem over time the prairie is examples of resilience? The fire in shortgrass steppe. WITPress Southampton.html. When this question is: Divide your Sustainable Development III. Its know? Do they seem are the similarities between all grasses are gone and there are resilient immediately after of the resilient objects? How few rodents living there. it is no surprise that similarities and differences in From Ford. 447-456. after you have had time to think about it. What does this ever occurred. Villacampa.5 years. Another example might be the grass outside. remember that your fingernails are resilient to breakage. the prairie has • How are broken fingernails are they different? Compare the amount of time it takes for recovered so much that a perlike a prairie that has been son can hardly tell that a fire burned by a wildfire? How the resilient items to show resilience. Later. Y. depending on how long after the event it is made. grade than you expected. visit www. 25 . In each case. Thus. This • Are your fin. After being broken? 2. 824 pp. (2001). you 10 minutes to observe exam- • Why do you think that vegetation in the areas that were burned before the growing season regrew faster than vegetation in the areas burned during the growing season? immediately judge the event one way.A. time between the event and Section their judgment about it. the How do you each group developed.com/stories/nature/yelSince wildfires are a natural FACTivity is: part of what happens on a What are some lowstone/yellowstone. If a person’s are they different? exercise tell you about the timeframe for judging characteristic of resilience? resilience is a few months. Brebbia. If FACTivity For more information about a person’s timeframe for judgThe question ing resilience is a few years. through this covery. Scale.).
3.Form for Recording Resilience. 2. 5. up to 5 feet. Object Sudden change event Time needed for resilience to show Fire Safety Tips from Smokey and His Friends at the Texas Forest Service Sometimes people want to burn trash or other debris (duh bre) in the out of doors. Local governments may have restrictions on when or if trash and debris can be burned outdoors. a wildland fire may result and homes may be damaged or destroyed. such as leaves and sticks. especially if windy conditions are likely to occur. Stay with all outdoor fires until they are completely put out. clear the area around the place where the fire will be. Before burning. Heated cans will explode and may cause human injury. windy days. of any burnable materials. 4. If an outdoor fire is allowed. they should check with their local government. Never burn trash or debris on dry. here are tips for safe outdoor burning: 1. It is important to be careful when burning debris. Never attempt to burn aerosol cans. 26 . Check to see if weather changes are expected. If such fires get out of control. Only adults should burn trash or other debris. Before the adults in your household start any outdoor fires. Larger fires will require larger areas to be cleared out.
forest managers (för est män ij ürs): Skilled individuals that take care of natural resources. represent (rep re zent): To be an example of. sociology (so se ôl uh je): The study of people living together in groups. wildfire (wild fir): An uncontrolled wildland fire started naturally or by careless human action. or government. and used. distributed. female mammals have glands to produce milk for feeding their young. business. conservation (kän sür va shun): The care and protection of natural resources such as forests and water. economic (e ko nom ik): Having to do with the management of money in a home. vegetation (vej uh ta shun): Plant life. .Glossary endangered species (n dan jürd spe shez): Wild plants or animals with so few individual survivors that the species could become extinct in the area where it naturally lives. economics (e ko nom iks): The study of the way that goods and wealth are produced. mammals (mam uls): Warm-blooded animals that have a backbone. old-growth forests (ôld groth fôr ests): Forests that contain trees that are hundreds or sometimes thousands of years old. psychology (si kôl uh je): The science that studies the ways that people think and the reasons for their actions. Who Gives a Hoot? Determining the Value of Owl Habitat 27 Pronunciation Guide a ä e i o as in ape as in car as in me as in ice as in go ô u ü oo ng as in for as in use as in fur as in tool as in sing Accented syllables are in bold.
When a fire begins to burn the top layer of fuels. Spain. Thinking About the Environment Have you ever seen Mt. it can spread quickly. Peru.decisions about the natural environment. McKinley (also called Denali [duh nä le]) in Alaska? Have you ever seen Yellowstone National Park in Fire Facts: Forest Fuels Within a forest. The top layer of fuels is above the level 28 Dr. such as psychology. and include grasses. As a scientist. You study these kind of topics in er these values by asking people questions. and treetops (called crowns). Mexico. These topics are grouped protecting the environment into a category of science that for things like hiking and as deals with physical aspects of homes for endangered all life. Economics is a social science built on the idea that people spend money on things that are important to them. In this study. forest fire fuels are not all the same.behavior. As a scien. González-Cabán and son Omar Meet Dr. I discover how people feel about the environment by asking them questions. Surface fuels are found at the top of the soil level. Russia. Prescribed fires. I play detective to discov. I get to travel to interesting places all over the world. . People cannot buy gory of science that includes resources like clean air in topics that deal with human stores. Armando GonzálezCabán: I like being a scientist because it is fun to play detective and try to understand how people make economic of the soil and includes branches. I am topics like biolinterested in how much people value clean air and water. By doing this study. and other vegetation. the scientists investigated the economic behavior of people. they usubecause I like solving puzzles ally think about about human behavior. Loomis Thinking About Science When people think about sciI like being a scientist ence. There is another catespecies. dead trees. kind of like a three-layer cake. Portugal. Loomis: Social Studies class. Prescribed fires leave the large trees standing and unharmed. chemistry. including Chile. and ogy. Meet Dr. decaying wood. and Ghana! Dr. tist. Ground fuels are found beneath the surface of the soil. burn only the surface fuels.sociology. Scientists call these kind of topics social sciences. and include materials like tree roots and decaying matter. When you see a photograph of a large wildfire with flames in the crowns of trees. and astronomy. or history. that kind of fire is called a crown fire. They sit in layers. so it is hard to put a price tag on them. fallen needles and leaves. the scientists gained a better understanding of how important the environment is to different people. which are strictly controlled. The scientists asked people if they would be willing to spend money on environmental conservation.
Some people might think that forests are valuable because they provide wood for building homes. Natural areas have a lot of different kinds of value to humans. or because they provide homes for birds and mammals. The Pacific Northwest of the United States. people might think the environment is valuable for a lot of reasons. As you can see. but you still might think they are valuable. By purposely burning the vegetation that grows near the Figure 1. Scientists estimate that over a 100-year period there is a 70 percent chance of a large wildfire burning a for- est so that northern spotted owls can no longer live there. Introduction The northern spotted owl is an endangered species that needs old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest to live (figures 1. like all forests. Unfortunately. (What does it mean to say that there is a 70 percent chance of something happening?) There are many things forest managers can do to reduce the risk of a large forest fire. Old-growth pine forest that provides habitat for the northern spotted owl. One of the best ways is to use what managers call prescribed (pre skribd) fire. may catch fire and be damaged or destroyed. and 3). These are small fires that burn the lower forest vegetation but leave the large trees standing. Northern spotted owl. Figure 3. You might not think they are valuable at all. 2. You might think they are valuable because you would like to visit them one day. old-growth forests.Wyoming? How about the Amazon River in Brazil or the Sahara Desert in Africa? You might not have ever seen any of these natural places. Or maybe you think they are valuable because they provide homes for wildlife. 29 . Prescribed fires are purposely started and are strictly controlled by forest managers. Figure 2.
not even when you are playing. Managers could conduct prescribed fires if they had money. in your house. the scientists people living in California and developed information that they hoped would help people New England had an equal chance of being selected to think about the reasons they receive the information. the use of the forest for wood products such entists are tryas furniture. Remind adults to turn pot handles toward the center of the stove. they asked people to think about the beauty • What is the question the sci. 3. 9. 8. Ask adults to install smoke alarms. if you do not have them.” above). Never stick anything into an electrical socket except an electrical plug.000 fires are started by kids. he also wants you to prevent uncontrolled fires in your home. the total amount of wood fuel is reduced. 4. For example. there is a risk of a large forest fire destroying the owls’ habitat. Remind the adults in your household to change smoke alarm batteries every spring and fall. The owls would have no place to live.of the forest. or candles. prescribed fires cost a lot of money. Pot handles should never hang over the edge where someone could bump them and knock them off of the stove. As you can see.growth sample. Every year. Unfortunately. Turn off electrical equipment when you are finished using it. 2. Here are some tips to help you prevent uncontrolled fires in your home: 1. The scientists in this study wanted to know whether people like you and your family and friends value the endangered owl’s habitat enough to support spending more of our tax money on prescribed fires. If managers leave the oldgrowth forests as they are. matches. and the forest as ing to answer? a home for wildlife. The scien• Do you think that it is tists asked people if they important to protect the would pay money to reduce habitat of an endangered the risk of a large wildfire in species like the northern old-growth forests. it means that all of the forests. this can be a big problem. Do not play with lighters. . Never put anything over a lamp. When the how the risk of fire could be scientists picked their random reduced in old. might value old-growth However. Then. the old trees that the owls need are left standing and the area is better protected from large fires. 30 7. only a small perforests (see “Thinking About Reflection Section Fire Safety Tips from Smokey and His Friends at the United States Fire Administration! Although Smokey wants you to prevent wildfires. 6. That way. the Environment.ground. like clothes or a blanket. Don’t stand too close to a fireplace or a wood stove. Don’t play with electrical cords. 5. almost 100. spotted owl? Why or why The scientists put the infornot? mation and the questions into a booklet and sent the booklet Methods to a random sample of people The scientists designed in California and New information that explained England (figure 4).
you can assume that the five pieces closely represent the number and proportion of colors in the rest of the bag of candy. (What is lower than the values in figure M&Ms candy.14.growth forests. The median is the number halfway between the smallest and the largest. For example. the respond would not be willing were assumed to represent scientists calculated the mean to pay anything.The scientists assumed that received the booklet. Mean Median Mean Median The mean is the average. By doing this. 31 . 26. Look for the small number at the bottom of the page for more Figure 4.37 ing in California and New 30 England would be willing to pay per hectare to reduce the 20 risk of wildfire in California and Oregon (table 1). the lected the responses from their scientists did not include the sample. the quantity that is determined by dividing the sum of two or more quantities by the number of quantities added. ple that received the booklet From all of the responses.64 Then. 5. and 50. they divided the total amount by the number of 60 hectares of protected oldgrowth forest in California 50 and Oregon. Therefore. You can do the (or average) and the median amounts that they used were amount that people said they same thing with a bag of ® would pay (figure 5).and median!] New England. In the calculation above. 45. everyone in California and the average and median New England. If you shake 5. and you pick five M&Ms® (shaking the bag in between). 70 68. The average is 21. 8. 1 People in California People in New England Figure 5. The peothe people that did not fire in old. they calculated how centage of the total number of much money people said they responses of people that did not respond to their questions.70 they were able to estimate 40 how much money people liv36. would be willing to pay to people living in the areas reduce the risk of a large wild. 30.69 people living in each area. The State of information about the mean Findings California and the area of Once the scientists had col.the difference between the mean and the median? 1) [When you see a small number following a word as you see it here. that means that further information is provided at the bottom of the page. take the numbers 2. and the median is 26. 27. The scientists took the lower average amount and 80 multiplied it by the number of 78. Amount people in California and New England are willing to pay in dollars per household to reduce wildfires in old-growth forests. 10 the bag right before you pick out an M&M®.
including the value • Why do you think that peo.47) $953. are willing to Reflection pay more money to reduce Section fire risk in California and • Are you surOregon old-growth forests prised that peothan people in New ple in New England? England are • Look at table 1. From this willing to pay money to table. or is the value different for different people? Why might different people place different values on an item? To answer these questions. Amount People Are Willing To Pay Per Hectare People in California People in New England $386 $128 Amount per Acre (Multiply the per hectare amount by 2.42 $316. the scientists concluded that people in I am a boy_____ girl_____ I Am Willing To Pay California and New England This Amount place a high value on protecting old-growth forests for Item 1: northern spotted owl habitat. construct a survey using the form below as a guide.of providing habitat for ple in California endangered species. people that make deciItem 5: sions about whether to pay for 32 .Table 1. Make one copy of the survey for each member of the class. It could be something like a stuffed animal or a model car. Each class member a prescribed fire may want to consider many different kinds of values. Average amount people are willing to pay to reduce the risk of wildfire in old growth forests. In the future. For each of the five items. This study shows that oldItem 2: growth forests are important for many reasons. you will answer the questions: What is the value of a favorite possession? Is there just one value. can you tell how protect owl habitat that is many hectares equal 1 acre? located across the country How many would you say in California and Oregon? that it is? Why? Reflection Section Implications Using the amounts calculated from the responses to their Questionnaire Example for Each Item questions.16 • Do you think that people that make decisions about using tax money for prescribed fires should consider values like providing habitat for endangered species? Why or why not? FACTivity In this FACTivity. you will follow this method: Select five classmates to bring a favorite personal possession to class. including Item 3: providing habitats for endangered species such as the Item 4: northern spotted owl.
A class member cannot submit an amount for their own item. 3 amounts for each item. B. as if you really had a chance to purchase the item (but you do not really have that chance!). Collect all of the surveys and calculate the average amount the class is willing to pay for each item. 33 . 43(4): 473-482.) Hold a discussion in your class on the average value of each item. You will have 15 average amounts. J. and González-Cabán (1997). Try to be realistic. Comparing the economic value of reducing fire risk to spotted owl habitat in California and Oregon. Then. add all of the amounts and divide the total by the number of classmates participating in the bidding for that item. What are the similarities and differences between bidding on a classmate’s favorite item and being willing to pay a certain amount to protect endangered species habitat? From: Loomis. discuss what this FACTivity illustrates about the value of an item. calculate the average amount that the boys are willing to pay for each item.Example of Results: 15 Average Amounts Overall Average Amount Item 1: Item 2: Item 3: Item 4: Item 5: Girls’ Average Amount Boys’ Average Amount will write in the maximum amount they would be willing to pay to purchase each item. (See the example below. To calculate the average. Calculate the average amount that the girls are willing to pay for each item. Are the values different for boys and girls? Why do you think this is? Would the person that owns the item be willing to sell his or her item for the average amount? Why or why not? As a class. Forest Science.
fluffy feather. compounds (käm pownds): Chemical substances formed from two or more elements. plume (plum): Something that is shaped like a large. Pronunciation Guide a ä e i o as in ape as in car as in me as in ice as in go ô u ü oo ng as in for as in use as in fur as in tool as in sing Accented syllables are in bold. 34 . gaseous emissions (gash us e mish ens): Things discharged in the form of gas. simulated (sim yoo lat ed): Created the appearance or effect of something for purposes of evaluation. vegetation (vej uh ta shun): Plant life. troposphere (trop uh sfer): The part of the atmosphere from Earth’s surface up to about 6 miles. duct (dukt): A tube or a channel through which a gas or liquid moves. sample (sam pul): Part or piece that shows what the whole group or thing is like. upwind (up wind): The direction from which the wind is blowing. Consist of one or more atoms. molecules (môl uh kyools): Smallest particles of a substance.Smoke and Mirrors: Detecting the Amount of Gases in Wildland Fire Smoke Glossary ecosystem (e ko sis tem): Community of plant and animal species interacting with one another and with the non-living environment.
Yokelson Dr. I also like to tell others what I have discovered. Griffith Dr. and we get to share and discuss our ideas. Bertschi: I like being a scientist because doing research is fun. Babbitt Dr. . Hao: I like being a scientist because I want to understand the impact of human activities on the global environment.Dr. Meet Dr. Hao me work the way it does. is important. Meet Dr. Bertschi with African teens Dr. The answer to one question often leads to Meet Dr. I like being a fire scientist because big fires are almost Meet Dr. I enjoy developing instruments I like being a scientist because in my job as a scientist so that I can make careful measurements in our atmosat least one interesting thing phere. whether forbecause I get to work in interest fires contribute to global esting places with other scienwarming.you can help people solve thing new. Meet Dr. Wildland fire is one of nature’s most awesome forces. Being a scientist is a challenge. Being a fire scientist problems. Through research I learn how it can be harnessed to improve ecosystem health. Griffith: always exciting. Wade Dr. Susott Dr. Ward: and it is very satisfying when I like being a scientist because every day brings some. Ward Dr. Babbitt: many other questions. I like being a scientist because I am curious about what makes the world around 35 Meet Dr. Susott: I like being a scientist to human health. Yokelson: Meet Dr. I study questions about the danger of fire smoke Meet Dr. help me to solve problems. from big fires. Sometimes I get to go to interesting places to discover new things about the environment. These measurements happens almost every day. Wade: I like being a scientist because I get to investigate wildland fire. and how to use tists on problems of small fires to protect society worldwide importance.
and from these meaother wood products. and the University of Wollongong in Australia worked together to study the gaseous emissions of forest fires. They also built a fires to discover the amount of duct in the back of the plane. When green- house gases escape from Earth Reflection and are trapped in the troposSection phere. Other scientists believe that there is enough evidence now to claim that global warming exists. can be beneficial to the natur. The scientists then flew the plane over three forest fires burning 36 . If they are not conmolecules and compounds. Global warming is the gradual warming of the Earth. The • If you were the scientist.They put an instrument. the heat is reflected • What is the back to Earth. The spectrometer meause. Fires are sometimes does this by shining infrared purposely used by people to light into the smoke (figure 1). Forest surements the scientists can fires also have some disadvan. they might destroy They put the spectrometer in homes and other buildings. Fire also produces gaseous To collect the smoke.Different kinds of molecules tion from an area after large react in different ways to the trees have been cut for human light. Some warming of the troposphere is necessary because the Earth would freeze without it. Some scientists believe that it will take decades or more to prove that global warming is or is not occurring. some of which built a duct in the front of the might contribute to global plane. they emissions. This is similar to what you do when you work with other students on a class project.identify the different kinds of tages. an airplane (figures 2 and 3). scientists in this study wanted how would you test the to know the amount of greensmoke coming from a forest house gases escaping to the fire? troposphere during forest fires. clear leftover trees and vegeta. greenhouse gases going into leading from the box to the the troposphere. These gases are commonly called greenhouse gases. The scientists in this side to the inside. One of the question the scithings that might cause greenentists are tryhouse gases to escape into the ing to answer? troposphere is forest fires.Thinking About Science Scientists often work with other scientists on their research projects. and constudy wanted to test the nected it to the spectrometer smoke that comes from forest in the box. scientists from the University of Montana. Some into the box. leading from the outwarming. It growth. Fires are also used to clear sures and records the reaction land of trees when the trees of the molecules and comare not useful for lumber or pounds. Global warming occurs when too much heat is trapped in the troposphere by certain kinds of gases. Methods The scientists built a special Introduction box to collect and measure the Some kinds of forest fires gases coming from forest fires. and fire can help kind of molecules and comprepare the soil for new plant pounds are in the smoke. natural environment. an infrared (in fruh red) specFire is a normal event in the trometer (spek trôm uh tür). the USDA Forest Service. called al environment and to people. In this study. An infrared spectypes of vegetation need fire trometer can identify what to reproduce. trolled. outside. They put valves in the ducts so that they could control the air flow (figure 4). What are the advantages of working with others when you are trying to learn something new? What are the disadvantages? Thinking About the Environment You have probably heard a lot about global warming.
the scientists collected samples of the smoke from the forest fire. USDA Forest Service Air King 90. Visible Light Figure 2. Figure 3. While they were in the smoke plume. in North Carolina (figure 5). Then they flew into the smoke plume. The spectrometer before it was placed into the airplane. Figure 4.Gamma-rays X-rays Ultra-violet Infra-red Microwaves Radio Waves 10 -11 10 -9 10 -7 10 -5 10 -3 10 -1 10 10 3 short wavelength wavelength (cm) long wavelength Figure 1. The scientists collected smoke by opening the duct valves in both the front and back of the plane. on the east coast of the United States. They were able to collect many samples of the forest fire smoke. The pilot sat on the other side of the cockpit. showing the area of visible light and the light waves outside of the visible spectrum. North Carolina. In this way. The smoke intake is visible in the side cockpit window. Note the location of infrared light waves. The scientists flew the plane back and forth for many hours. 37 Figure 5. Electromagnetic spectrum. they closed both of the valves (figure 6). Example of the duct system showing how forest fire smoke was moved through the spectrometer as the airplane flew through forest fire smoke. .
38 . Wildland fire fuels are materials such as green plants. In the past. acetic (uh think it is set ik) acid. releasing heat and creating gases. fire requires air with only 16 percent oxy- gen to burn. the gases and particles in smoke can cause dangers to people’s health.amount of gases in both kinds of smoke. • Why do you think that the They had already measured scientists compared the labthe amount of these gases in oratory smoke with the the laboratory smoke as in the actual smoke from forest smoke from the actual forest fires? fires. Section They measured formaldehyde • Why do you (fôr mowl duh hid). it reacts with the oxygen in the air. Although air usually contains about 21 percent oxygen. These three know how gases contribute to global much greenhouse gases are warming by helping to create contained in the smoke the greenhouse gas ozone from forest fires? (Hint: (O3). trometer to measure the amount of certain greenhouse Reflection gases contained in the smoke. the scientists took all of their measurements and compared them with the amount of these gases other scientists had found in other research studies. The scientists in this study found greater amounts of the three types of gases than other scientists had found. they compared the Results The scientists found that the amounts of formaldehyde. smoke. This process is known as oxidation (ox uh da shun). the scientists Where does the smoke from had simulated forest fire these fires go?) smoke in their laboratory. When fuel burns. Then. and other burnable materials. and methanol from the forest fires were similar to the amounts of these gases found in the laboratory smoke. Some of the gases created during oxidation may contribute to global warming. Fire Facts Fires need fuel. and methanol important to (meh than ôl). and particles. acetic acid. heat. The flow of the smoke was regulated by valves. and oxygen to begin burning and continue burning.valve valve Flow of Smoke Flow of Smoke Figure 6. The scientists used the spec. tree branches. Close to Earth. Then.
As a class. make a list of the questions and barriers that you would face as you escape a fire in your home. Also discuss what you might do in advance of a fire.not go toward the smoke. ozone is formed. is surrounding you. Previous research had indicat. Reflection Section • Do you think that more studies should be done on this topic? Why or why not? Implications When formaldehyde.you face if you had to quickly escape from a fire in your ed that these three gases are 39 home? The method you will use to answer this question is: Each student will think about a fire occurring in the kitchen of their home. discuss the steps you would take. stay upwind of the health and safety. and use an escape route away Smoke from either wildfrom the smoke. acetic FACTivity acid. If there is a fire. This is where many home fires start. such as decide as a family where you will meet outside if a fire occurs. Do stay away from it! Fire Safety Tips Reflection Section • Why do you think the scientists wanted to know how the actual forest fire smoke compared with the smoke they created in the laboratory? What would be the advantage of being able to create smoke in the laboratory that is similar to actual forest fire smoke? • Why do you think it is important to compare current research results with earlier research results? not present in large amounts in forest fire smoke. cloth if possible. Remember. or where you should keep fire extinguishers in your home. Ozone student will increases the possibility of answer the global warming (See question: What “Thinking About the barriers might Environment. What steps will you take to escape from your home? Get into groups of four students and discuss what you would do. you are in your bedroom. away from the smoke fire in your home and smoke and the fire. When you learn about the fire. stay as smoke poses a serious danger close to the floor as possible to your health and safety – as you leave the house. Cover your land fires or uncontrolled nose and mouth with a damp home fires is very dangerous. If the results from future studies agree with these results. However. or whether you would have to escape from a window. If you are The smoke from these fires outside near a wildfire or poses a serious risk to human other fire. . the scientists in this study found that there are larger amounts of these gases in smoke than scientists had thought before. and methanol combine In this with other gases in the troposFACTivity. forest fires may be become known as another source of gases that contribute to global warming.” above). Examples include whether to grab your favorite possession. Develop five tips for escaping a fire and post them in your classroom. each phere. As a class.
W. Emissions of formaldehyde.. The infrared spectrometer in this study caused the infrared light beam to travel back and forth 120 times! The spectrometer was only 0.8 meter long (to find out how many feet this is. R. trying to get the beam to shine though the The question hole. You can use a ruler to ING: Do NOT point the laser measure the approximate disat any people! First. Wade. G. R. line the shoe box with aluminum foil. D.. From Yokelson. about 3. methanol.10930.. One of your classmates you will answer can hold a piece of black paper about 1 foot from the with this outside of the opposite hole to FACTivity is: How do mirrors make it easier to see the beam. WARN. M. T. Now use the ruler to estimate how long the reflectbeam directly at one of the Another FACTivity ed beam is between holes. Estimate how long the presentations). (1999).enable you to see the beam inside of the shoe box. On the other end. D. A. Bertschi. What happens to the length of the light beam when mirrors are used? When using an infrared spectrometer. acetic acid. How long was the light beam after it traveled back and forth 120 times? Now you know why the infrared spectrometer is built with mirrors. Mirror Bl ac k pa pe r Laser pointer Mirror 40 . poke WARNING: Have your five holes. shine the direct beam of light is between pointer from the outside through the one hole. This is because a longer light beam will create more opportunity for vibration of the smoke molecules. Babbitt. and Hao.. E. 104(D23): 30.five holes.. Susott. Ward. Turn the lights off teacher or an adult handle the so that the room is dark.holes. point the tance. Tape the mirrors the dry ice in the bottom of the box and cover the box to one side of each end. as with a piece of clear plastic or shown in the illustration plexiglass. the infrared light causes molecules in the smoke to vibrate. The dry ice will below..8 X 3. ror. This gives the scientists more information. D.5 inches X 4 inches each. D. affect the distance light waves Now using the mirrors. Using a laser pointer (used for dry ice. the better able scientists are to use the sample of smoke to identify chemicals. J.125. multiply 0. R.. Journal of Geophysical Research. If you can get dry ice (ask at your this question is: Get a shoe box. W. The longer the beam of light. E. and other trace gases from biomass fires in North Carolina measured by airborne Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. and two inexpensive mir.28). Poke a small hole on one end where there is no mir.grocery store). try to travel to reach an object? The get the beam to come out of method you will use to answer each of the five holes. J. Goode. Place rors.
and flowers. Wildland Fire. nonflammable (non fläm uh bül): Not easily set on fire. 41 . simulate (sim yoo lat): To create the appearance or effect of something for purposes of evaluation. plants. House on Fire! The Relationship Between Trees. forest managers (för est män ij ürs): Skilled individuals that take care of natural resources. decompose (de käm poz): To rot or decay. combustible (käm bus tuh bul): Capable of catching fire and burning. downwind (down wind): In the direction toward which the wind is blowing.Liar. and Damage to Homes Glossary ignition (ig ni shun): The act of setting on fire or catching on fire. Pronunciation Guide a ä e i o as in ape as in car as in me as in ice as in go ô u ü oo ng as in for as in use as in fur as in tool as in sing Accented syllables are in bold. Liar. landscape plan (land scap plan): A drawn plan to make a piece of ground more attractive by adding trees. shrubs. firebrands (fir brands): Burning embers that fly out of intense fires. endangered (en dan jürd): Legal term referring to a species whose existence is in danger. case studies (kas stuh des): Particular events or stories used as a learning tool. intense (in tens): Very strong or great. data (da tuh): Facts or figures studied in order to make a conclusion.
Fire does not move in this Fire Facts For a fire to burn. Like detectives. you might ask your friends if they liked the movie (clue #1). and grasses. 42 . Convection (kän vek shun) happens when heat is transferred through the flow of liquids or gases. As a fire scientist. Can you think of a time when you do the same thing? Think about the latest movie hit. it continues to provide heat that supports the fire. When injury or harm does not occur. A fire can spread from the ground to shrubs and into treetops by convection. or oxygen that is feeding the fire. When forest managers want to control forest fires. you are like a scientist! Thinking About the Environment Sometimes things happen in the environment that people call natural disasters. and you might see the movie yourself (clue #3). it needs fuel. heat. and oxygen. avalanches. he or she plans in advance how that clue will be fuel. When a detective follows a clue. Examples include floods. Two of these ways play an important role in the life of a wildland fire. fuel consists of burnable material such as trees.Meet Jack Cohen: I like being a scientist because I am curious about nature and I like to ask questions. For a wildland fire. It’s great to have a job that pays me to find out how things happen. these natural events are recognized as normal environmental events that happen at a large scale. such as water or snow. To determine if the movie is good. shrubs. scientists sometimes follow many different clues and determine if all of the clues lead them to the same conclusion. Radiation is the way most of the heat from a wildland fire is transferred to unburned fuel. Wildfires are different than floods and avalanches in one important way. I use my understanding of how fires burn to help solve problems with fire in wildlands. newspaper. and wildfires. Solving problems with wildland fire helps people to find ways to live in harmony with fire. which moves and completely covers everything in its path. Radiation (rad e a shun) transfers heat by rays. heat. When you do this. Once a fire is burning. A natural disaster is a natural disturbance that people judge to be harmful. Floods and avalanches consist of a mass. I can explore my lifelong interest in fire. such as from the sun or the flames of a fire. or on the Web (clue #2). such as when hot air rises above a fire. the scientist used three methods to find out under which conditions houses might catch fire from forest wildfires. they try to reduce or eliminate the amount of fuel. Then the scientist compared the methods to see if all three of the methods (or clues) led him to the same conclusion. followed. Scientists also develop plans to solve problems. Their plans are called methods. Heat is transferred in three ways to nearby unburned Thinking About Science Scientists are like detectives because they solve mysteries. you might read about the movie in a magazine. In this study.
One of the wood walls built by the scientist for his experiment. If any one of these three is not present in a great enough amount. The scientist then set fires in the forest to simulate a forest wildfire (figure 2). The computer program helped the scientist to determine how close flames would have to come to a house to heat the wood hot enough so that it might be ignited by a little spark. the scientist set up an experiment. The walls were built in a field near a forest. These case studies gave him actual stories of homes being destroyed by wildfire. Scientists call this the fire triangle. When wood gets hot enough. For a fire to spread. In the past 10 years. and 30 meters downwind of the forested area. heat. what is one way that you might answer this question? Introduction When lightning or other forms of ignition start a fire in a forest.way. the scientist placed an instrument that measured the amount of heat reaching the wall. however. Reflection Section • Think about each of the three ways that the scientist used to find clues to answer his question. the scientist was concerned that the computer program and the experiment did not include all of the factors present during an actual wildfire. Name a rea- . and divide by 12. (To determine number of feet. 20. the scientist used information from another scientist’s research to create a computer program. Fire spreads from the continual ignition and burning of fuel. First. The computer program predicted how much heat is needed before a wooden wall would catch fire. The question the scientist wanted to answer was: How close must flames come to a house’s outside wooden walls before those walls catch fire? Method The scientist collected information from three places to find the clues he needed to answer his question. the trees provide the fuel that wildfires need to spread. it begins to decompose. it releases combustible vapors into the air. forest managers may let them burn if there is no threat of injury to people.) • If you were the scientist. Wildfires may be started by a natural cause. When houses are built close to trees. he built three wooden walls that were meant to simulate the walls of a house (figure 1). they can enable wildfires to burn close to the house. The scientist was able to compare the case studies with the computer program and the experiment. a fire cannot spread. or destroyed hundreds of houses. such as lightning. (Remember the fire triangle?) If trees and shrubs are close to a house. it must have fuel. Reflection Section • Can you think of another way to ask the scientist’s question? (Hint: Think about the trees’ distance from the house. Third. In his experiment. When wildfires are started by a natural cause.) Into each of the three walls. or to endangered wildlife. One reason for this is that more and more houses are being built in what was once large areas of forests and shrubs. multiply the number of meters by 39. to houses or other structures.37 43 Figure 1. Second. The walls were built 10. As wood decomposes. there is a chance of a wildfire. wildfires have threatened. damaged. or they may be started accidently by human activities or on purpose by an ill-meaning person. He went to the library and read about two other wildfires and how they destroyed houses. and oxygen.
he found that the program predicted greater heating than he actually found. ignite if the fire is farther than meters. that the scientist used gave In the scientist’s experiment. The wall built 30 meters away was not scorched at all and did not ignite. When the Findings meters away from flames flames made contact with this will not usually ignite in a The computer program wall. The scientist found that firebrands contribute to the ignition of wooden walls during wildfires. the less heat the wood receives meters away from a wooden structure. which serve as fuel for a wildson why each way alone feet is that?) The farther a might not give the scientist source of flame is from wood. The computer protaught the scientist that even burn. When the flames gram predicted that trees very large wildfires will not extended just beyond 10 burning 40 meters away cause wood structures to will not ignite a structure. (How many 44 . fires will not ignite the structure 90 percent of the time. When the scientist compared the amount of heat predicted by the computer program for a distance of 10 meters with his experimental data. fire. the showed that wall was scorched but did not walls located 20 ignite (figure 4). the scientist found Figure 2. When trees. do beyond 10 meters from the you think the scientist could forested area. it ignited and began to wildfire. him three very different flames never swept very far answers to his question. The experimental fire. However. that all three ways of determining ignition distances generally agreed.scorched but did not ignite. the wall built 20 meters away was only lightly The case studies mentioned 40 meters away. When the Reflection draw a conclusion about flames got close to—but did Section how close trees must be to a not make contact with—the • The scientist’s house to set the house on wall built 10 meters away experiment fire? Why or why not? from the forested area. By reading the case studies. are between 10 and 40 the right answer. even intense wild• If each of these three ways (figure 3). the scientist learned that between 86 percent and 95 percent of the houses with a nonflammable roof and trees no closer than 10 to 18 meters (How many feet is that?) survived the wildfires (figure 5).
The area of tect it from wildfires. can you change the landscape what would you recomplan to make the home safer mend as a result of this from wildfires? The method research? you will use to solve this problem is: Look at the landscape Implications plan on the next page. Almost 9 out of 10 houses that were at least 18 inches or larger. Using a ruler. ignition time. When flames did house catching fire during too close to the house to pronot make contact. 45 . are responsible for the trees and other vegetation are Figure 4. Using your meters away survived a wildfire. you its surroundings. Then. The relationship between the amount of heat. You can built 10 meters away was land around a house is usually determine this distance from scorched but did not ignite. get a blank piece of paper. Discovery FACTivity The problem you will solve a distance of 10 meters. 8 inches X 11 Figure 5. This The scientist reported that plan is drawn from a bird’s the condition of the house and eye view. shrubs. reading the “Findings” section of the article above. and distance from the flame. and the driveway are shown.120 12 Amount of heat (Kilowatts per square meter) 100 10 80 8 The scientist concluded that people who own houses should take responsibility for making their houses safe from wildfires. how could people make their houses safer from wildfires? 40 4 20 2 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 0 Distance from flame (meters) Amount of heat Ignition time Figure 3. with this Why do you think the scienFACTivity is: tist used a range of 10 to 40 What are the potential wildmeters when reporting his fire problems with a particular results? home’s landscape plan? How • If you were the scientist. owned by the homeowner. Ignition time (minutes) 60 6 Reflection Section • Do you think that people should take responsibility for making their houses safe from wildfires? Why or why not? • Based on this research. trees. The symbols for the house. within 40 will need to determine which meters. the wall intense wildfires.
4. Listen to your local radio and TV stations for fire reports and instructions. shrubs. ask the adults in your household if they have protected the house from a forest fire. Preventing disaster: Home ignitability in the wildland-urban interface. Legend: Large Tree Bushes Scale: 1/2" = 20 meters For your landscape plan. If you have a wood shake roof. The larger the space. To do both of these tasks. Establish a space around your house that does not have any combustible materials. Move wood piles and building materials away from your home. Keep your roof and yard clean. 10. Recycle your yard waste. This space should be at least 30 feet or 9 meters across. From: Cohen. Make sure your address is easy to read from the road. but not so close as to cause a danger from wildfires. 1 inch equals 20 meters. up to 130 feet or 40 meters. and that your driveway is large enough for emergency vehicles. Discuss why you designed the home’s landscape the way that you did. Journal of Forestry. J. 5. use this scale: 1 inch equals 20 meters. March 15-21. and other vegetation close to the house. 9. the better protected your house will be. Remove or thin overcrowded or weak trees near your home. and how your landscape plan will help to protect the home from wildfires but still provide the benefits of trees and other vegetation. develop a landscape plan that places trees. Compare your landscape plan with your classmates’.ruler and a pencil. Cut your grass and other plants regularly. Clean your gutters regularly. 2. you will need to convert the measurement of meters to inches using your ruler. (2000). and from the base of your chimney and deck. 6. For your own landscape plan. D. 3. Reduce the amount of vegetation close to your home. 46 7. . Remove dead limbs and branches from your yard. 8. Fire Safety Tips from the Firewise Communities Program Do you live in or near a forest? If so. Here are some things you can do to protect your house from fire: 1. replace it with a material that is more fire resistant.
intensity (in ten si te): The quality of being very strong. Pronunciation Guide a ä e i o as in ape as in car as in me as in ice as in go ô u ü oo ng as in for as in use as in fur as in tool as in sing Accented syllables are in bold. 47 . associated (uh so she a ted): Closely connected with another.Dew It! Which Weather Measurements Are Related to the Occurrence of Wildland Fire? Glossary complexity (käm plek suh te): The state of being complicated or having many related parts. saturated (sah chür at ed): Soaked completely through. wildfire (wild fir): An uncontrolled wildland fire started naturally or by careless human action. relative humidity (rel uh tiv hu mid uh te): The percentage of water vapor in the air relative to the total amount of water vapor the air can hold at that temperature. weather stations (weh thür sta shuns): Places where instruments measure and record weather conditions. predict (pre dikt): To tell what one thinks will happen in the future.
and wind speed. nature. Science ditions occur. Figure 1. as when Scientists believe that when Thinking About people are not careful with certain kinds of weather concampfires or with matches. The scientist to spread. Scientists may also depend on the weather that occurs each day. they can more easily nature. started by mistake. Wildfires might be adult. As an tions are the best for deter(figure 1). In this study. the scientist measured things like air temperature. mining the danger of fire. Then. best for identifying the risk of study this complexity in If the weather on some days is wildfires. he divided the daily weather 48 Thinking About the Environment Introduction . If scientists the danger of a wildfire. relative humidity. Although scientists know Wildfires can that many weeks of low rainMeet Dr. Instead of observing large or dangerous everything all at once. To answer his question. by separating the weather into different kinds of measurements. The scientist in this study wanted to identify the most important daily weather conditions that were associated with a dangerous or a large wildfire. the scientist wanted to know which daily weather conditions are most related to forest wildfires. The daily weather is not really a lot of separate conditions.predict wildfires. Instead. people should be stand what they observe. complicated Unfortunately. with fire during those days. you will find that can determine which daily many things are connected in Whether a wildfire spreads weather conditions are the one way or another. When you look closely Most people know that weeks not checked to see if these same conditions occur on days of dry weather will increase at things in with no wildfires. but they also search determine which days wildmore likely to help a wildfire for simpler ways to underfires might occur. I’m still asking why. they have al means during dry weather. Potter: fall increase the chances of be a threat to I like being a scientist wildfires.conditions into separate measurements. To identify these conditions. extra careful with matches or in this study wanted to deterOne of the ways that they mine which daily try to simplify their research is weather conditions by studying things piece by are associated with piece. observe and measure separate things. they can better The world is a Wildfires may also be started by lightning or by other natur. it is a related set of conditions. they wildfires. they examine how the separate things are related. place. the scientist made the problem easier to study and to understand. Wildfire. they do not know the health and because as a child I never which daily weather condisafety of people and animals stopped asking why. However.
) He found information on 459 large wildfires that had burned between 1971 and 1984 (figure 2). based on the season the fire had burned.Reflection Section • What is the question the scientist is trying to answer? • Is it important to be able to predict on which days a wildfire might burn? Why or why not? Methods The scientist collected information from large wildfires that had burned in areas across the United States. 49 . the scientist was able to compare the weather measurements made on days when wildfires did not burn with measurements made on days in which wildfires had burned. For each wildfire. Figure 3. The scientist also collected weather measurements for days in which wildfires had not burned. and winter (figure 4). He then divided the weather information from each weather station into four groups. (To find out how many acres this is. multiply 400 times 2. fall. Number of wildfires in each State. This meant that the scientist had information from each weather station for the days that wildfires burned in the spring. Figure 4. In this way. he used information from the closest weather station. the scientist decided that wildfires burning less than 400 hectares would not be included.47. Weather station. Location of weather stations and number of days there were fires recorded at each weather station. To make sure that he was collecting weather information only for large wildfires. summer. The scientist collected weather measurements recorded at 20 weather stations on the dates the fires had burned (figure 3). 17 17 26 0 25 3 85 51 7 0 6 0 14 1 1 29 0 0 4 10 0 4 1 3 0 1 1 5 0 7 0 49 0 5 1 0 1 0 0 81 00 0 0 2 18 8 11 21 11 64 8 5 23 6 17 19 23 5 5 33 5 30 15 25 Figure 2.
and wind affect the spread of a wildfire. the dew point depression was high. When air temperature is high and the amount of water in the air is low. there is little moisture in the air and a wildfire is more likely to become large or dangerous. dew point depression. the type of weather occurring at that time can help a wildfire spread. When the air above a flame gets heated. On days when large wildfires burned between 1971 and 1984.Weather measurements used include air temperature. A wildfire can gener- ate its own wind. Air temperature. Wind shear occurs when winds at different heights blow in different directions or at different speeds. and dew point depression were the three weather measurements most associated with wildfires. The dew point temperature is the air temperature at which the air is saturated with water. wind speed. and wind shear were the weather measurements most associated with large or dangerous wildfires. there is a lot of water in the air. humidity. thus helping to spread itself. a wildfire can continue to spread in part by creating its own wind. Even though you will perspire if the temperature is high. dew point depression. if fuels are available and there is a lack of moisture in the air. This research suggests that dew point depression is the most important measurement. When it rises. relative humidity. Thus. fresh air rushes in to fill the vacuum. dew point depression is the single best measurement to use when trying to predict wildfires. Of these three measurements. Besides the availability of fuel. and grasses. such as trees. Dew point depression is the air temperature minus the dew point temperature. Reflection Section • Even without weather instruments. scientists thought that air temperature. The fresh air provides a new source of oxygen for the fire. large or dangerous wildfires are more likely to burn. and wildfires are not as likely to burn. Fire Facts For wildland fires. Reflection Section • How did this research simplify what was known about the association between wildfires and daily weather conditions? Implications In the past. what happens to your perspiration when the dew point depression is low? • Why do you think that your perspiration does not evaporate off of your skin when the dew point depression is low? Findings The scientist found that air temperature. When dew point depression is relative humidity. When people try to predict wildfires based on weather conditions. 50 . they should pay the closest attention to dew point depression. it rises. relative humidity. shrubs. and wind shear. Reflection Section • Why do you think that the scientist had to use weather data from fires that had already occurred? • Which of the five measurements do you think were more closely associated with large wildfires? Why? high. When dew point depression is low. fuels consist of burnable materials. humans can generally tell when the dew point depression is low.
paper. (1996). It is best if the temperature is over 85 °F can measure the temperature (or 29 ° C). 0-200: Soil and fuel moisture content are high. In some places. increasing the intensity of the fire. Dew point is the point at which the point of the air surrounding the can is the temperature regair. The best time to do this Hold the thermometer against FACTivity is when the temthe outside of the can so you perature is high. International Journal of Wildland Fire. cools. p. Here are what the numbers mean: 1. It should air temperature and the dew reach air temperature before point are far apart. Put some ice into you will determine the air’s the water and stir. As the air water. perature in the shade and record the air temperature. filled three-quarters high with the air immediately surrounding the can to cool.. 4. 446.) If the side in the shade. you will need ature at dew point. Atmospheric properties associated with large wildfires. and a pencil. possibly creating problems with smoke. at a given temperature. 200-400: Fires will more readily burn. the air is you continue. S. Ltd. 3. Larger fuels may smolder for many days. or KBDI. Brian E.: A source book of fascinating facts. What has happened? The ice has caused a cleaned-out vegetable can. Canada: Scholastic Canada. and activities. The dew dew point temperature. 2.. Most fuels will not readily ignite. ice. projects. (2000). a spoon. 6(2): 71-76. The KBDI rates current and expected weather conditions and places them on a numbered scale. from 0 to 800. Ontario. Using the thermometer. a thermometer. 600-800: Fires will burn all of the fuels off of the ground. Knowing the dew point will help you to determine whether dew or fog is likely to occur. it absorbs moisture which you cannot see until it The method you will use to can hold no more moisture. Activity from: Bosak. V. In this FACTivity. Science is. is a mathematical system developed to help people understand how likely a wildfire is to occur. There is not much danger of wildfire. The question you will answer when the first sign of moisture is: What happens when the air appears on the outside surface of the can. all of the fuel on the ground will burn away.. (See “Methods” water sit for a few hours outto learn how to do this. From Potter. but heavier fuels will not ignite readily.Fire Safety Tips from Smokey and His Friends at the Texas Forest Service! The Keetch-Byram (kech bi rum) Drought Index.dry and the relative humidity Discovery FACTivity is low. Record the tempercan hold no more moisture? For this activity. measure the air tem. 51 . Weather reports often give the air’s dew point temperature. of the air immediately outside of the can. answer this question is: Let Now calculate the dew point the vegetable can filled with depression. istered on the thermometer can hold no more moisture. 400-600: Fires will readily burn in all directions. Fires will burn throughout the night and heavier fuels will actively burn.
How old are you? (Circle) 9 10 11 12 13 other age: _____ 8. Did you try to answer the Reflection Questions? ■ Yes ■ No ■ Some of them If you read and tried to answer any of the reflection questions. GA 30602-2044 Thank you! 52 . Athens. The article was: Very interesting to read Somewhat interesting to read Not interesting to read 4. STUDENTS. Would you like to read another article? ■ Yes ■ No 11. PLEASE COPY THIS FORM BEFORE DISTRIBUTING. 2. please send this form to: Dr. Are you a girl or a boy? ■ Girl ■ Boy Now write in your answer: 10. Barbara McDonald USDA Forest Service 320 Green St. ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ The article I read was entitled: Let’s Clear the Air Fighting Fire With Fire Time Will Tell Who Gives a Hoot? Smoke and Mirrors Liar! Liar! House on Fire! Dew It! 7.TEACHERS. What grade are you in? (Circle) 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 9. What is your favorite subject in school? Along with your class or by yourself. Tell Us What You Think About The Natural Inquirer 1. The article was: Easy to understand Hard to understand Very hard to understand 3. Did you learn something from reading the article? ■ Yes ■ No 5. did they help you to think about the article? ■ Yes ■ No 6. What did you learn from reading the article? Circle the answer that best describes how you feel about the article you just read.
please indicate why the section was not useful or how it ■ Too hard can be improved: ■ Too easy Sidebars 4. figures. is it: a “one” or a “two” in question 5.Would this article help you meet any of the required statewide science curriculum standards? ■ Yes ■ No 2. photos Reflection Questions FACTivity 5.Please rate the article sections on a scale of 1 to 5.How close to the appropriate reading and comprehension level for your students is this article written? ■ Very close ■ Somewhat close ■ Not close Sidebars Glossary Introduction Methods Findings Graphs.PLEASE COPY THIS FORM BEFORE COMPLETING. five means the section was very useful. For any of the sections you rated with either level. please answer the following: Name of Article:________________________ 1.If the article is somewhat close or not close to the appropriate reading and comprehension 6. One means the section was not useful at all. Not useful 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 Very useful 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 3.Would or did you use this article in your classroom as an educational resource? ■ Yes ■ No ■ Why or why not? Glossary Introduction Methods PLEASE CONTINUE THIS EVALUATION ON THE NEXT PAGE 53 ☞ . The Natural Inquirer—Teacher Evaluation For each article that you read.
GA 30602-2044 Thank you! Your evaluations will help us to continually improve the Natural Inquirer. 54 .What subject(s) do you teach? Please send this evaluation.Findings 10.Was the “Note to the Teacher” useful to you? ■ Yes ■ No ■ Somewhat 8. along with your students’ evaluations.What grade(s) do you teach? ______ 9. Other comments or suggestions: Graphs. photos Reflection Questions FACTivity 7. figures. to: Dr. Barbara McDonald USDA Forest Service 320 Green St. Athens.
com Agriculture in the Classroom: www.fed.shtml 55 .fs.pbs.fed.fs.html Fire prevention tips for homeowners: www.html To view a photo gallery of wildland fire: www.htm National Forest Recreation: www.fs.fs.org/wgbh/nova/fire/ and www. Fire Administration Kid’s Page: www.org/wgbh/nova/fire/simulation.fed.us/recreation National Forest Information: www.gov/ U.html Smokey Bear: www.S.org Learn more about wildland fire: www.arkfireprevention.org Yellowstone National Park Wildfire: www.us The Natural Inquirer: www.gov/news/usdakids/index.usda.firewise.smokeybear.html NatureWatch: www.fs.gov/kids/ Arkansas Fire Prevention tips: www.nifc.usfa.org/firesafetips.fema.agclassroom.com/stories/nature/yellowstone/yellowstone.gov USDA Forest Service Conservation Education: www.discovery.wildlandfire.pbs.Visit these Web sites for more information: USDA Forest Service: www.us/outdoors/naturewatch/default.us/recreation/map/finder.usda.com National Interagency Fire Center: www.us/outdoors/nrce/ USDA Kid’s Page: www.fed.naturalinquirer.fed.
Resources.Which National Science Education Standards Can Be Addressed by The Natural Inquirer? FIGHTING FIRE WITH FIRE LIAR! LIAR! HOUSE ON FIRE LET’S CLEAR THE AIR SMOKE AND MIRRORS WHO GIVES A HOOT? TIME WILL TELL Standards Science as inquiry Abilities Necessary To Do Scientific Inquiry Understandings About Scientific Inquiry Physical Science Properties and Changes in Properties Matter Motions and Forces Transfer of Energy Life Science Structure and Functions in Living Systems Reproduction and Heredity Regulation and Behavior Populations and Ecosystems Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms Earth and Space Science Structure of Earth System Science and Technology Understandings About Science and Technology Science in Personal and Social Perspectives Personal Health Populations. and Environments Natural Hazards Risks and Benefits Science and Technology in Society History and Nature Science as a Human Endeavor Nature of Science X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X 56 DEW IT! .
minerals. according to State needs and interests. The USDA Forest Service manages over 150 national forests and almost 20 national grasslands. . agricultural businesses. National Park Service. develop. streams. The CSREES provides leadership to identify. When that happens.What is the USDA Forest Service? The USDA Forest Service is a part of the United States Department of Agriculture. it pays for people to work together to control the fire. and the U. National forests are similar in some ways to national parks. One large wildfire may burn areas owned by different people or lands managed by different government agencies. and Extension Service (CSREES). and grasslands. What is Agriculture in the Classroom? Agriculture in the Classroom is a grassroots program coordinated by the USDA’s Cooperative State Research. education. and manage programs to support university-based and other institutional research. National forests also provide resources for people to use. whose work is presented in this journal. The government agencies that work together include the following Department of Interior agencies: Bureau of Land Management. the National Interagency Fire Center can do a better job of protecting human communities and the natural environment from the risks of wildland fires. Some people in the USDA Forest Service are scientists. People involved at the State level represent farm organizations. and extension. the environment. The mission of the CSREES is to advance knowledge for agriculture. now and into the future. By working together. and communities. when wildland fires burn they often cross property lines. The center’s mission is to reduce the risks and losses to communities and the environment from wildland fires. Both national forests and national parks provide clean water. Agriculture in the Classroom What is the National Interagency Fire Center? As you know. and government. the National Weather Service. and the Office of Aircraft Services are also part of this partnership. the National Association of State Foresters. It is made up of thousands of people who care for the Nation’s forest land. The National Interagency Fire Center is a partnership that works together on wildland fire. human health and well being. such as trees for lumber. homes for animals that live in the wild. The goal of Agriculture in the Classroom is to help students and teachers gain a greater awareness of the role of agriculture in the economy and in society. The USDA Forest Service. These are large areas of trees. and plants used for medicines. Bureau of Indian Affairs. The program is carried out in each State. Education. and places for people to do fun things in the outdoors. education. USDA Forest Service scientists work to solve problems and provide new information about natural resources so that we can make sure our natural environment is healthy. Fish and Wildlife Service.S.
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