More than 600 professionals talk wildfire in Missoula


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    More than 600 wildland fire professionals are in Missoula talking about fire prevention.

    Vicki Christiansen, interim chief for the Forest Service, explained in her keynote event the changing face of disastrous fire seasons. She said there are over a billion burnable acres in our nation today, and last year’s wildfires set records across the board, from acreage burned to money spent and manpower.

    “And that’s just it -- above normal is becoming the new normal. Something we can’t control. Nor can we control the challenges of increased development in the WUI (wildland urban interface). An estimated 120 million people, over 46 million homes are at varied levels of risk from wildfire,” said Christiansen.

    She talked about focusing on what we can control, like how we respond to fires, having fire-adapted communities and restoring resilient landscapes.

    Her speech is just one of many in the four-day conference. It’s put on through the partnership of the Association for Fire Ecology and the International Association for Wildland Fire.

    "This fire conference is called the Fire Continuum, and there's so many different competing forces that are out there that are trying to use fire or not use fire, and it's really a great place where we can come together from different world views and come up with tangible solutions that would benefit our society and also benefit the forests that are there," said Chris Dicus, president of the Association for Fire Ecology.

    Scientists and managers from more than 20 countries are attending the event. Anyone can pay to attend the conference.

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