Living with Fire: Chaparral Removal

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Detailed Description

Southern California's fire ecology is unlike that of anywhere else in the United States. Fire control strategies developed for mountain forests don't have the same results here. So can science help uncover new answers to help Southern California communities manage and live with wildfires? This 10 minute film showcases ongoing USGS research supporting agencies on the frontlines of fire management. Like earthquakes, southern California wildfires can't be prevented -- but the risks they pose to our communities and landscapes can be managed. USGS scientists hope to increase our understanding of wildfire factors. The resulting research can assist managers and planners in finding solutions to reduce the risk of home and habitat loss -- and help southern California truly learn to live with fire. USGS General Information Product 147, June 1, 2013


Date Taken:

Length: 00:01:58

Location Taken: Los Angeles, CA, US


Coming up, what are the consequences of removing

chaparral for fire control?

Another complex issue is mastication and the

removal of chaparral from the landscape.

Mastication can be valuable for creating defensible
space and fuel breaks to help fire fighters

protect homes, but scientists are trying to
analyze its potential tradeoffs.

Alexandra Syphard:
The problem is that fuel breaks often don’t

stop fires in progress particularly under
really high wind conditions and when the fuel

is really dry.

Our research has put some numbers and statistics
behind this and knowing that fuel breaks really

don’t stop fires under these strong and
severe wind conditions, they really only work

when fire fighters are present or under mild
weather conditions.

There are other questions about the effectiveness

of chaparral removal because non-native weeds
move in which are much more flammable.

Combined with drier conditions due to climate
change and more frequent fire ignitions due

to people, these weeds may lead to a longer
fire season.

At the same time, native wildlife habitat
is eliminated.

The scientists continue to study how to balance
the impact of chaparral removal and the necessity

of fuel treatments.