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UAF hosts symposium on human-fire interactions

Submitted by Marie Gilbert
Phone: 907-474-7412


Fires burned 6.59 million acres in Alaska in 2004--the state's largest fire season on record. During Alaska's third largest season in 2005, 4.7 million acres burned. Interior Alaska has experienced a far calmer fire season this year and scientists who investigate wildland fires will use the break to share their preliminary findings at the Human-Fire Interactions in the Boreal Forest of Interior Alaska symposium August 15 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The symposium will be held in Elvey Auditorium on the West Ridge of the UAF campus from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Researchers, policy makers, fire managers, fire workers, and anyone interested in forest fires is encouraged to attend.

Scientists will address effects of climate and vegetation on fire, effects of fire on rural economies and subsistence resources, costs associated with fire suppression, changing roles of fire policy and fire management, and opportunities created by the increasing risk of wildland fires.

"The fire management community is dealing with a lot of issues, changes, and uncertainty," said Scott Rupp, associate professor in the department of forest sciences at UAF. "We are trying to define these issues, understand the directions and rates of change, and begin to quantify the associated uncertainty."

Nancy Fresco, UAF Ph.D. candidate, will present an examination of the "... feasibility of converting village electrical generation systems from diesel fuel to wood fuel in Interior Alaska. I examine this question in terms of costs, technology, and logistics; sustainable wood supply; fire protection around villages; and village jobs, autonomy, and lifestyles," Fresco said.

"We are trying to put questions of fire management into a context that includes human needs, environmental concerns, and the realities of politics and policy," Fresco said.

"We will use this symposium as a vehicle to communicate some of our preliminary findings and present a framework for beginning to deal more formally with these issues at a landscape-level over short and long time frames," Rupp said.

Additional information: Symposium agenda viewable at: www.iab.uaf.edu/events/eventsmeetings.php (Click on "SYMPOSIUM AGENDA.")

UAF campus map of West Ridge showing public parking and the Elvey Building viewable at: www.uaf.edu/campusmap/blue_zone.html

Contact: F. Stuart (Terry) Chapin III, professor of ecology, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, www.faculty.uaf.edu/fffsc, tel: 907.474.7922, terry.chapin@uaf.edu

Sarah Trainor, post-doctoral fellow, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, tel: 907.474.5043, fnsft@uaf.edu

Marie Gilbert, public information officer, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, www.iab.uaf.edu, tel: 907.474.7412, marie.gilbert@uaf.edu.