There's an Upside to Yosemite Wildfire

It could restore the forest's ecosystem back to its natural state

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 4, 2013 11:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Atlantic goes looking for some silver lining to the Yosemite wildfire, and finds this: Carl Skinner, a US Forest Service ecologist, has discovered that the forest has been altered over the past 100 years due to human intervention into naturally occurring forest fires, becoming less diverse. So the current Rim fire could "reboot" the system back to its historical roots, allowing for a wider variety of habitats where long-dormant plants can once again thrive.

"If you have a living forest, getting older and older, it’s not something we have an option to conserve in an unchanging way,” says an ecologist from Colorado State University. “Some fires are going to be necessary if we want to sustain these old forests.” It's not quite that simple, though, says Skinner—this fire isn't natural and could be so intense that it damages seeds and tree roots to the point of no return. In other fire-related silver lining, the blaze is now 80% contained, and the evacuation order has been lifted in several nearby communities, reports the AP.

A firefighter walks through a burn operation on the southern flank of the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park.
A firefighter walks through a burn operation on the southern flank of the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park.   (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service, Mike McMillan)
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