Montana Outdoors

Jul 20, 2011 5:28 PM by Mark Holyoak (KPAX News)

Researchers examine wildfire impacts in Northern Rockies

MOSCOW, ID - Researchers from the University of Idaho and Washington State University received $1.2 million from NASA to study the ecological impacts of extreme wildland fires in the Northern Rockies.

"It's essential that research needs to focus on not just working out the size and impact of extreme fires and hurricanes on vegetation, but also how they affect the local and regional social communities that live there, too," said Alistair M.S. Smith, assistant professor of forest measurements in the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources.

Smith leads a team of UI and WSU students who will use satellite data, community case studies and policy analysis to understand the relationship between wildfires and their ecological and social effects on people.

"We are very pleased to have this work funded. From a social science perspective, we are confident this project will advance our understanding of the societal effects of large wildfire events," said WSU Professor Matthew Carroll. "It also will help communities living in the wildland-urban interface become more knowledgeable and better equipped to address the risk and the reality of wildfire in an era of global change."

"We anticipate the knowledge gained from this project will be of interest to the NASA's Earth Science Applied Science Program," said Smith. "The research should enable increased use of satellite observations for ecosystem monitoring and disaster management by land managers."

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