For Educators

Order Products

Login / My Account


Keeping It Local: How Federal Wildfire Policy is Implemented at the Local Level

This article is from Issue Wildland Fire 2 - Vol. 13 No. 1.

* Note: All editions of the Natural Inquirer starting with Volume 5 and including future editions require the newest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 in order to be downloaded. We have upgraded in order to ensure greater accessibility to PDF files. Please click on the following link if you need to upgrade your Adobe Acrobat reader: Upgrade now to Adobe Reader 6.0. It is a free upgrade.

In the past, forest managers always put out wildfires. More recently, forest managers have discovered that fire can be a good thing for some ecosystems. Wildfires are now sometimes allowed to burn rather than always be put out. When a wildfire is threatening human communities, however, it is put out. The Federal Government passed the law to encourage communities to develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan which included the wildland-urban interface (WUI). The scientists wanted to learn about the communities that made the WUI part of their plan. 

Welcome to the Wildland Fire 2 edition!

Note to Educators

Journal Lesson Plan 1

Journal Lesson Plan 2


Who or What Am I?

Reflection Section Answer Guide

Additional Resources for this Article:
Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Life Science
  • People and Science

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
Social scientists study what people think, do, and believe. One way they discover this is to conduct interviews with the people about what they want to learn. Interviews are like conversations, except that the scientists try to guide the conversation so they find out specific information. They ask questions that can be well defined or that can be open-ended. A well-defined question might be: “How many brothers and sisters do you have?” An open-ended question asks something general. An example of an open-ended question is: “Tell me about the first time you fell off of your bicycle and got hurt.” The scientists try not to share any of their own opinions. In a good interview, the scientist rarely says much except to ask for more information. By interviewing different people using the same questions, scientists can learn about all the different ways in which people think about a topic. Interviews are usually recorded. Later, while listening to the recording, the scientist types the interview, word for word. Then, the scientist organizes and summarizes what was said. Interviews can be done in person, over the phone, or even on the Internet. In this study, the scientists interviewed people in four towns in the Eastern United States.
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • Characteristics of Scientists
  • Scientific Topics

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
Some people live in or near large areas of forests. Often, people build homes near the edges of State or Federal public land. State lands include State parks and forests. Federal lands include national parks and national forests. When people build close to or within large areas of forest, they raise the chance of having their homes damaged or destroyed by wildfire. They also increase the chance that a fire will burn into the forest, as most forest fires in the East are started by people. The Federal Government has defined communities that occupy land near or within these large natural areas as the wildland urban interface, or WUI. The WUI is an area where houses either meet or mix with wildland vegetation, including forests, prairies, or other natural areas. To help protect these communities from wildfires, the Federal Government has encouraged people living in the WUI to plan for wildfires. The Government wants people in these communities to think about ways to discourage wildfires and what they can do to protect their homes if a wildfire burns in their community.
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Wildland Fire

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Natural hazards (F)
  • Nature of science (G)
  • Personal health (F)
  • Risks and benefits (F)
  • Science as a human endeavor (G)
  • Understandings about science and technology (E)
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry (A)