Crowdsourcing fire recovery photos

Morgan Fire
Morgan Fire as seen from Brentwood, September 8, 2013. Photo by Brittney Lauren.

Mt. Diablo State Park is using a crowdsourcing technique to create a time-lapse history of the recovery of the vegetation following the wildfire that burned much of the park last September. The Morgan Fire blackened about 3,200 acres 18 miles east of Berkeley, California before it was contained.

Park managers have posted signs at four locations on hiking trails asking visitors to place their cameras in a bracket, take a photo, then post it to a social media page along with a specific hashtag. The images for each location are then assembled into a slide show in chronological order — and of course they are posted on the internet. The website is receiving so much traffic, it has been down occasionally and some of the slide shows have not worked at times..

Not only is this a relative inexpensive way to document the recovery of the vegetation after a fire, but it educates and informs the public as they participate in the project. It undoubtedly garners publicity for the park, increases website traffic, and probably swells the number of visitors to the park.

Granted, with the loosely controlled camera angles and varying lens settings, it may be difficult for scientists to reach detailed conclusions about the fire effects in the burn area, but that may not be the primary objective.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.