Living with Fire: Prescribed Burning

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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: 00:01:46

Location Taken: San Diego, CA, US


The scientist’s work has also revealed significant

insights about traditional fire management

Some common assumptions about wildfires have

also been challenged by new scientific findings.

Chaparral is the predominant ecosystem in
southern California.

These native shrublands are a unique dynamic
community of plants and animals.

Scientists have discovered that standard fire
control techniques such as prescribed fires

may not be suitable for southern California

Marti Witter:
When I first started work at the Santa Monica

National Recreation Area in 2001 the park
had had a twenty-year program of prescribed


The objective of that burning was to provide
wildfire safety to local communities and also

to promote the health of our shrubland ecosystems.

But, according to the National Park Service

neither of these outcomes was achieved.

Research has now revealed that prescribed
burning has no effect on the fire pattern

in chaparral.