Flame Game: A Podcast About Controlled Burns
Episode 1: Controlled Burns, 3D Technology, and Smokey BearFeaturing Mike Gallagher
The first podcast episode focused on providing background information on controlled burns including the ecological and environmental importance, in addition to explaining why controlled burns were ever suppressed in the first place. The United States has practiced a culture of ‘fire suppression’ for the last 100 years utilizing pointed campaigns like Smokey Bear to stop forest fires. However, these campaigns told the American public that all fires were bad, but in fact that isn’t true. Research surrounding controlled burns has proven that many forests need fire in order to be productive, but also that this culture of fire suppression has harmed many of the important forests that are fire-adapted. By removing fire from the landscape, forests are becoming overrun by less sturdy trees that don’t provide the same or as many benefits as the fire-adapted ecosystems, and is creating environments that lack a lot of biodiversity. I met with Mike Gallagher, a research ecologist who works for the USDA Forest Service at the Research Station at the Silas Little Experimental Forest in the New Jersey Pinelands to get a better understanding of why controlled burns are important and what he does in his research and in the field. He also provided information on how this culture of fire suppression began, pointing at campaigns like Smokey Bear as one barrier to controlled burns, and explained why in fact fire in forests is integral to both the diversity and resilience of ecosystems, but also to public safety.
Watch Some of the first commercials in the campaign to prevent wildfires:
And here’s a recent commercial from 2019