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Natural Resources

Fall 2011

How to protect your home from wildfires

If you live in a wildfire-prone area, preparation and forethought is key to your personal safety and preserving your home.  You can follow these ten FireSafe steps to prepare your home and land.

(Courtesy www.firesafespokane.com, a service of the Washington Department of Natural Resources)

1. Recognize the hazard

Fire is a natural part of our environment. In Spokane County, the grasses and pine forests have been subjected to fires every 3 to 30 years. This is a normal part of our Eco-system. There are more than 300,000 people living in Spokane County and many live in or adjacent to forestland. Understand the steps … » More …

Fall 2011

When wildfire comes to town

Flames ripped through the pines and brush in the Dishman Hills west of Spokane Valley in July 2008, just as they’ve done for thousands of years. A dry wind pushed the fire up a hill, hotter and faster, and straight into a new development of expensive homes, destroying 13 of them and burning 1,200 acres.

The wildfire’s destruction was not surprising or unexpected. But the number of homes and residents who survived the blaze serves as a testament to smart planning, an awareness of inevitable fires, and research into the interaction of fire-prone wildlands and the growing number of people who live near them.

Although … » More …

Spring 2005

Those wasted five gallons

As Americans, we freely water large, green lawns and take showers daily, using on average 100 gallons of water a day. We pay a fraction of a cent per gallon for water out of the tap, while a gallon of gasoline costs $2. Yet life cannot exist without water.

 ”Water is undervalued,” says Jim Clark (’75 B.S. Civil Engr.; ’76 M.S., Civil Engr.). “Whether it’s water in a stream or water going down a sewer, it’s all a valuable resource. I’d like people to think about that and consider that it is.”

Clark lectured a group of civil and environmental engineering faculty and students while … » More …

Winter 2007

O Palouse!

O Palouse!, a DVD about the area, obviously started as one of those absolutely great ideas. Take an area that’s extraordinarily photogenic. Good geologic bones, good seasonal color. Unique personality. Add a rich history of relatively recent European settlement and a fairly well documented Native history. Throw in a few major conflicts between settlers and natives for drama. Then there’s the two-universities-in-the-middle-of-nowhere angle. Then we’ll get a lot of sponsors and work them into the story just a little, and bingo! O Palouse! Oh! Oh! Oh!

And for the most part, it works. O Palouse! is a fine general introduction, a perfect stocking stuffer, a … » More …

Winter 2006

Mimicking Nature's Fire: Restoring Fire-Prone Forests in the West

Forest health has been much in the news. It is a powerful metaphor—but one of uncertain and ambiguous content. Congress has used it to avoid environmental assessments of logging; opponents of logging have often portrayed it as a smokescreen. Mimicking Nature’s Fire is in part a guide to this debate. Stephen Arno (’65 For.), a forest ecologist, and Carl E. Fiedler, a silviculturist, have combined their talents to argue for “restoration forestry,” an approach that seeks to reestablish “an approximation of historical structure and ecological processes to tree communities that were in the past shaped by distinctive patterns of fire.” The book is divided into … » More …