In recent years, devastating natural disasters such as the 2016 Gatlinburg Fire (Tennessee) and the 2018 Camp Fire (California) have increased public awareness of the threats posed by wildland fire. Associated destructive impacts on communities have left many people wondering:
“Do land management decisions determine how wildfires impact people in small towns and larger cities?
How do wildfires start and spread, and how did fire historically shape the wildlands within which modern communities are imbedded?
What is prescribed fire, how is it safely conducted, and is it an effective tool for forest management?
What are the best forest and urban management practices to reduce the risks fire poses to human society?
Are there career paths dedicated to addressing the issues between wildland fire and human society?”
Future members of the natural resource management workforce should be well-equipped to answer these questions, and to make land management decisions that ensure the health, well-being, and prolonged functionality of human populations and the fire-prone ecosystems within which we live. Moreover, diversity is a strategic imperative and the future workforce should be representative of the communities that their decisions and actions will impact.