This past month the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has entered “Wildfire Season.”All the new growth from our warm, wet springs begins to dry out in the July heat. This creates lots of tinder for naturally occurring wildfire. Lightning storms strike dry areas of timber and undergrowth and a wildfire is born!

Although wildfire is destructive, burning down thousands of acres of forest, and sadly sometimes consuming people’s homes, it is actually a very necessary and restorative force in our forests. Wildfire is most likely to occur in older forest patches, where trees are already at the end of their lifecycle and sucesptible to disease and pests. Wildfire consumes these less healthy areas of forest and returns the nutrients to the soil via ash deposits. Seeds of plants and trees, stored deep in the soil or released by the heat of the fire itself, will regrow the forest, healthier than before.

Our understanding of wildfire continues to evolve, but today wildland firefighters try to allow wildfire to play a natural part in our ecosystem while keeping people and property safe. It’s a very hard and dangerous job, but we and the ecosystem thank them for it!

Keep up with wildfire news by visiting InciWeb