Forest Fire in the American Southwest
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How do we know what we know?

"Gie me a spark o' Nature's fire,
That's a' the learning I desire."

—Robert Burns, "First Epistle to J. Lapraik," 1786

Recent catastrophic wildfires in Western forests make apparent the need to adopt different management practices based on scientific research. Interpreting the science is a complex endeavor. Many different plans of action can arise from scientific data.

Flames in Our Forest by Stephen F. Arno and Steven Allison-BunnellThe process of developing new forest policy gets even more complex when political interests get involved. Science may attempt to be objective, but policy arises from political interpretations of science. Good policy uses accurate science and takes realistic stock of political forces. Careful study of of both science and politics helps to ensure the implementation of good forest policy.

Two Side of Fire videoA great variety of information sources contribute to a broader understanding of Western forest fire issues. Online sources provide up to the minute updates on news events, science, and politics. Books give in-depth analysis. Some journal articles inform professionals on technical matters, while others serve to educate the general population. Every day information appears in the news on the whole range of forest concerns. Multi-media resources such as films and videos can make vivid the consequences of catastrophic wildfire. Deeper understanding can be obtained by attending conferences, workshops and public meetings.

Democracy depends upon an informed public. Everyone can make a difference by becoming informed and getting involved.

Last edited May 14, 2003

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NAU's Program in Community, Culture and Environment Northern Arizona University