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By mid-June the 2013 fire season in Utah had burned nearly 2000 acres with over 200 wildfires recorded from around the state. A “typical” wildfire year in the West has become increasingly difficult to define. Each year an increasing number of acres are consumed by wildfire in the western U.S. with trends suggesting larger fires are part of our future. Fire science suggests that three factors, including changing climate, a century of fire suppression, and invasive species, are contributing to the increasing occurrence and severity of western wildfires.
Curator of the Garrett Herbarium, Mitchell Power, has spent the last 15 years exploring the history of wildfire in the western United States. Join him for a discussion of the causes, benefits, and consequences of wildfire in the west, insights from the historical fire record, and the legacy of twentieth-century fire suppression policies. Power will also explore the dynamic relationship between humans and fire and discuss the challenges of understanding this relationship through time.