A whisper from the woods

Miss Bonnie in a Nutshell, June 2023

Jun 12, 2023

Early in June, terrible wildfires started to spread quickly in North America and Canada. Many living beings have been negatively impacted by these massive fires.

Kat and Miss Bonnie, based in North Carolina, USA, want to help us “understand how to prevent unwanted fires and learn about outdoor fire safety”.

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Fire can be an essential part of maintaining diverse and healthy ecosystems. However, as climate change leads to more intense dry seasons, it consequently also leads to wildfires increasing in intensity, severity, size, and duration. Unplanned and unwanted fires continue to be an increasing global problem and affect not only humans but countless animals as well. For this reason, Miss Bonnie and I believe it’s vital to understand how to prevent unwanted fires and learn about outdoor fire safety.

Over time, plant litter such as leaves and dead vegetation collects on the forest floor. As new shrubs and small trees begin to grow, they start to obscure the sunlight and may “choke” other native plants. Seed germination of many plants gets hindered as dense litter prohibits seeds from reaching fertile soil underneath the topsoil.

 

Fight fire with fire?

Fire has always been part of the environment, and as one of the most important natural agents of change, fire plays a vital role in maintaining certain ecosystems. Native Americans used fire to run games, maintain prairies and keep ecosystems healthy. Prescribed fires, also known as prescribed burns or controlled burns, refer to the controlled application of fire by a team of fire experts under specified weather conditions that helps restore health to ecosystems that depend on fire. When a controlled fire is introduced to an ecosystem, it can actually help reduce the catastrophic damage of wildfires by safely reducing excessive amounts of brush, shrubs, and trees. This way, it encourages the new growth of native vegetation, as well as maintaining the many plant and animal species whose habitats depend on periodic fire.

Prescribed fire is one of the most effective tools in preventing wildfires and managing the intensity and spread of wildfires. However, a prescribed fire is still fire, and should only be performed by fire-management experts. These specialists know what the optimal conditions and timing are to conduct prescribed fires based on years of training and experience. The weather conditions, topography, fuel types, and equipment all determine how prescribed fires are conducted.

On the other hand, unplanned and unwanted fires are often very dangerous, and sadly most fires in the Northern Hemisphere are the result of human negligence, such as the burning of trash, agricultural overspill, and accidents. It’s estimated that, in 2022, humans were responsible for 87% of all wildfires, according to National Interagency Fire Center (nifc.gov).

In our home state of North Carolina, careless debris burning is the leading cause of wildfires, according to NC Forest Service.

Help protect our forest and animals by following these simple wildfire prevention rules & practices:

  1. Keep an eye on the weather and DON’T burn on dry, windy days.
  2. Check for any burning bans or fire restrictions that may be in effect for your area.
  3. Never play with matches or lighters.
  4. Don’t use kerosene, gasoline, fuel, or other flammable liquids to start or speed up burning.
  5. Never leave a fire unattended.
  6. Make sure your campfire is completely out before leaving it.
  7. Always have a fire extinguisher or a water hose nearby. You can also use a shovel and toss dirt on the fire to put it down.

 

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If you have any questions for Miss Bonnie or Kat, you can reach out directly to them with the following email address: bonnie@plantgrowsave.org

Thank you for being here. Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

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