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rocky mountain research station

Forest Service Research Reduces Fire Danger in Chernobyl Contaminated Zone

In April 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded and heavily contaminated nearly 40,000 square miles with radioisotopes. The contaminated area became known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine and the Polesie Radioecological Reserve in Belarus. Today, the site remains heavily contaminated and access is restricted primarily to staff working to stabilize the remnants of the exploded reactor.

Multiagency Effort Goes Deep Inside a Fire

Forest fires often reach or exceed temperatures of 2,000° Fahrenheit—that’s equivalent to one-fifth the temperature of the surface of the sun. What is the impact of such high temperatures on the soil and plants of our forests? And how do the intensity and heat of a wildfire impact its behavior, smoke and the surrounding weather?

New Research Confirms that Today’s Wildfires Moderate Future Fires

The Forest Service manages landscapes, so they are resilient and resistant to threats of all kinds—from fires, to drought, to pest infestations. Forest Service researchers recently confirmed that naturally occurring wildland fire helps create fire-resilient landscapes that limit the start and spread of subsequent fires.

New Science Framework Provides Basis for Conservation and Restoration of Sagebrush

“Resilience” is the ability to recover from change, or when you think about landscapes, the ability to recover from disturbances like wildfires. A new model takes the idea of resilience and applies it to the natural environment, specifically, to sagebrush. This resilience model is one of the core elements of the new Science Framework for Conservation and Restoration of the Sagebrush Biome (Part 2).

Tree Rings Tell the History of Fire and Forest Health

Why are Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists sampling tree rings in the Pinaleño Mountains of southeast Arizona? Because tree ring samples reveal the history of fire. When fire scorches a tree, the tree floods its wound with sap, which protects the wound from wood rot decay for hundreds of years, as long as fires keep burning at a low intensity.