The materials provided in this section of the website are one means of connecting students with the management of public lands and helping them develop skills in issue analysis and problem solving. These materials are designed to supplement your existing curriculum and lesson plans. You are encouraged to regionalize your materials to help students understand that fire is an issue in their own backyards.
The Use of Public Lands
The appropriate use of public lands should be of concern to each of our students. Use of public lands is an important social issue and lends itself well to classroom discussion. A theme for these activities could be that each of us has a vested interest in caring for our natural resources. Students need to learn about land management issues, such as fire ecology, and have ownership of these important issues in order to become informed decision makers and voters. Fire ecology is one of the hottest topics in natural resource management today.
The Importance of Understanding Fire Ecology
Fire is an important tool of natural resource managers. In order to properly manage resources, natural resource managers sometimes start fires or permit naturally occurring fires to burn under very specific conditions. A chief concern among resource managers, in addition to protecting life and property, is public reaction. Researchers suggest that while the public understands the beneficial effects of fire, people often are not tolerant of allowing fires to burn a natural course in national parks or forests because of negative effects associated with wildland fire. Other surveys suggest a growing support among the public for new fire management programs, especially when the objectives and significance of fire management are understood.
Greater public understanding of fire’s ecological significance can lead to enactment of appropriate management policies. The most appropriate management practices, coupled with public support, can provide recreational opportunities and other resource uses on public lands for the good of all people.
The fire ecology information and lessons include background information for educators, sources of further information for educators, learner background information, activities, lesson plans and a glossary of fire terms. Grades five and six are the target for these materials.
These curriculum materials may be used at any point in the year. Late summer / early fall may be preferable because of the likelihood of a wildland fire during this time (i.e., the end of the fire season in many parts of the United States). If fires occur locally or there is media coverage of a wildland fire, you could use these as examples. Discussing news reporting methods and other burning questions surrounding this natural phenomenon would be most appropriate.