A very optimistic description of restoration after a wildfire

In March of 2015 the U.S. Forest Service began creating poster-like graphics on topics related to wildfire. The latest one, issued apparently by their Washington office, @forestservice, extols the virtues of restoration following a wildfire.

wildfire restoration

The three that we have seen could have benefited, in our view, from with a review by a wildfire expert with writing skills.

Restoration can often help return a burned site to the condition it was before the fire more quickly than letting nature run its course. The poster apparently intends to only address restoration after a fire, rather than the general topic of helping an unburned site to return to, for example, a pre-settlement condition before widespread fire suppression became the goal. Non-wildfire restoration usually involves prescribed fire, mechanical thinning, or both.

Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) efforts after a fire can include mechanical methods, such as planting grass to help reduce the threat of noxious weeds, and installing temporary barriers to protect treated or recovering areas.

The poster puts a very positive spin on “wildfire restoration”:

…eradicates nonnative species and returns the damaged land back to its original condition…

That is an overstatement, making it sound like all nonnative species are removed and the area looks just like it did before the fire. I would replace “eradicates” with “can reduce”, and, “returns” with “helps return”.

We are aware of two other poster-like graphics the USFS released in March, 2015. The one below uses an interesting phrase, “largest fire seasons since the 1950s”.

largest fire seasons USFS

The other, below, conflates wildfire prevention with fuel management. We wrote more about that last year.

Uncharacteristic Wildfires

Uncharacteristic Wildfire

This image was distributed by “USFS Fire-California” via their Twitter account. Often we see politicians and media personnel conflate wildfire prevention with fuel management. Now it seems that the U.S. Forest Service is in the same boat. And it looks like there is going to be an effort to train the public to understand a new term — “uncharacteristic wildfire”.

Uncharacteristic Wildfires