How Drought Affects Wildfires

The next chapter of our drought series is here: let’s talk about drought and wildfires. 🔥

Remember when Smokey Bear was SUPER popular? Like, the level of popularity where you couldn’t go outside without seeing an excessively buff bear telling you that it was your job to prevent wildfires?

Smokey Bear has a more low-key presence these days, and there’s a reason for that: As fire science progresses and fire history is explored, we’re realizing that fire isn’t always bad. And more often than not, it’s actually really good for ecosystems to experience fire.

Take lodgepole pines for example, which can be found all over the western United States. These iconic pines have serontinous cones, which means, in order for the cones to release their seeds, they first need to be burned by fire. Simply put, these trees couldn’t have babies without fire!

Fire benefits more than just lodgepole pines, and we could list the benefits of fire forever and ever. But fire has become A LOT more complicated now that our drought situation is so severe and because humans cause so many fires (not just through pyrotechnic gender reveals, but also through campfires, cigarettes, and more).

If we could sum up current wildfire science into a few words, it would be: natural fires are good and have been used by Indigenous people for thousands of years, human caused fires quickly get out of control, we should have let landscapes burn over the past 100 years, drought is making fires worse, and we need to create systemic change to our fire mitigation practices asap.

📚 Information Compiled by: @stephanie_landry_giavotella and @savadkinscroft
🎨 Graphics by: @savadkinscroft
📸 Photo: Frankie Lopez

Recreate Responsibly: Wildfire Edition

It’s the start of a big weekend for the outdoors. We just read that Zion National Park is expecting more than 85,000 visitors this weekend–whoa. As you settle in for a road trip to your favorite campsite, get educated on your responsibility to prevent wildfires.

The @recreate.responsibly coalition partnered with the National Interagency Fire Center to launch our Wildfire edition of the #RecreateResponsibly guidelines. Read ‘em, learn ‘em, share ‘em, and put these principles to practice outdoors:

🔥 Know Before You Go: Know how to prevent wildfires by properly using outdoor equipment, learning campfire safety, and checking for fire restrictions and closures.

🔥 Practice Physical Distancing: Give people space—it’s critical to not crowd firefighting efforts. Wildfires are no-drone-zones.

🔥 Plan Ahead: Know what fire restrictions are in place at your destination, and check if campfires, barbecues, and flammables are allowed.

🔥 Play it Safe: From fireworks to camp stoves, understand the potentially explosive nature of your toys and tools and that some of these may be restricted in your location.

🔥 Explore Locally: Impacts from wildfire can change your travel plans. Have a back-up plan, like close-to-home gems that you have yet to explore.

🔥 Leave No Trace: Keep your campfire small, ensure that it’s out completely and cold to the touch prior to leaving or going to sleep.

🔥 Build an Inclusive Outdoors: Everyone experiences the outdoors differently, and we can work together to keep our communities safe.

Head to http://recreateresponsibly.org to learn more about how you can #RecreateResponsibly this weekend, all summer, and through every season outdoors.