Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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|Smokey has a big job caring for the over 700
million acres of forest in the United States. Thats because fire can destroy these
forest lands and the places that Smokey and his friends call home.
Join Smokey for some forest and campfire fun. And, along the way, discover Smokeys rules for forest fire safety and prevention so that you can become a member of Smokeys team!
Remember: ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT FOREST FIRES!
|Our national parks are constantly being
threatened by a large number of forest fires throughout the year. There are approximately
125,000 forest fires annually of which 92% are the result of man-made causes. These
"man-made" causes include fires that are the result of campfires that are not
properly extinguished, the burning of debris to clear land, improper extinguishing of
smokers' matches or other tobacco products, fires caused by some form of arson, and fires
resulting from railroad workers and lumberjacks. The other 8% are made up of natural
causes such as lightning or unknown causes.
all forest fires cause the same amount of damage. In fact, there are three different types
of forest fires that each have their own level of damage. The first type is a surface
fire. Surface fires burn surface litter, small vegetation, and other loose debris of the
forest floor. These forest fires may and often do burn into the taller vegetation. The
second type of fire is a crown fire. These fires advance from top to top of trees or
shrubs. These are the fastest spreading of all forest fires. The final type of forest fire
is ground fire. These consume organic material beneath surface litter of the forest floor.
These are the most destructive and most difficult to control of all forest fires.
The National Park Service along with other organizations have begun to try and keep fire damage to our national parks at low levels. In 1981, the National Park Service along with the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service as well as others started the National Interagency Incident Management System, or the NIIMS, to deal with wildfires and other park disasters.
Although the NIIMS does exist and is doing a good job in dealing with the forest fires, many of the fires could be prevented. With proper education on what causes forest fires and proper law enforcement to deal with those who cause them, the number of man-made forest fires would decrease significantly. Currently, some attempts are being made to educate people on the proper use and extinguishing of fires. One well-known fire prevention icon is Smokey the Bear, who warns us that "only you can prevent forest fires." With more effort from people and more education from the proper agencies, we may be able to decrease the occurrence of forest fires and restore our national parks to their original beauty.