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    Author(s): Gary L. Achtemeier
    Date: 1998
    Source: USDA Forest Service, Juliette, GA. 1998. Reprinted from the American Meterological Society. 5p.
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: View PDF  (161 KB)


    1. Introduction
    Fire is recognized as a fundamental ecological process in many forest and rangeland ecosystems throughout the U.S. Ecosystems depend upon fire for health, reproduction, and protection from invading species. The Southern States are leaders in using prescribed fire and understanding its effects. Approximately 200 million acres of forest land are found within the thirteen states that make up the South - states roughly south of the Ohio River and from Texas eastward. Though these states have about 24 percent of the land area, they comprise 40 percent of the forest land in the United States. From 6-8 million acres per year are treated with prescribed fire. Southern land managers have found that prescribed fire can economically reduce fuels, remove species that compete for nutrients, enhance habitat of endangered species, and lower danger of wildfires that can destroy fragile ecosystems, reduce commercial fiber and threaten urbanized areas.

    2. The Smoke Problem
    However, where there is fire, there is smoke. The effects of prescribed fire on air quality are a serious concern. Visibility reductions caused by smoke or a combination of smoke and fog have been implicated in multiple-car pileups. numerous physical injuries, heavy property damage, and fatalities. As population increases and the numbers of travelers on the nation’s highways increases, the number of accidents related to smoke and fog can only be expected to increase.

    Publication Notes

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Achtemeier, Gary L. 1998. First Remote Measurements Of Smoke On The Ground At Night. USDA Forest Service, Juliette, GA. 1998. Reprinted from the American Meterological Society. 5p.

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