Forest Fire in the American Southwest
Solutions header
The problemAnalysisSolutionsResourcesHot topicsLatest news
   
Ecological restoration
Mechanical thinning
Prescribed burns
Fuel treatment patterns
Smoke management
Bark beetle control
Adaptive management
Community consensus
Community forestry
Stewardship contracts
Economic opportunities
New paradigms
 
Home
Index
Site map
Search this site
Smoke Management

Forest fire combustion is not a chemically efficient process. Most emission products are organic, and a significant portion of forest fuel emissions consists of particulate matter. Research has determined that it is this fine particulate matter that presents the greatest threat to human health.

Fire managers must carefully consider and manage smoke impacts that can not only compromise public health, but can impair visibility, violate federal, state, and local air quality standards, and reduce public support for restoration. As the use of prescribed fire increases, regulatory agencies are being forced to develop new programs and regulations to address these impacts.

Air quality and smoke management need to be included in every phase of the restoration planning process. Alternatives need to be proposed and analyzed, taking into consideration factors such as smoke dispersal evaluations and emissions estimates. Potential sensitive receptors, or resources or people within the potentially affected area that may be sensitive to smoke impacts, need to be identified.

Modeling of air quality impacts is useful in the planning, permitting, and public education and notification processes. Information about emission, receptor, and air quality dispersion models can be found at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) at Colorado State University.

Involving the public in both the planning and implementation phases of prescribed fire projects is vital to their success. An informed and involved public will be supportive of restoration work, prepared for smoke impacts, and understanding of the need for fire.

J.G.

References

Barkmann, Gretchen. 2003. Air quality and smoke management. Pages 371-386 in Friederici, Peter, ed. Ecological Restoration of Southwestern Ponderosa Pine Forests: A Sourcebook for Research and Application. Washington, D.C. Island Press.

Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. http://www.cira.colostate.edu/ 6/25/03

Last edited June 25, 2003

Go to top

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