Studying Fire

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The Fire Monitoring Program collects data before, during, and after prescribed burns or lightning-caused fires to characterize the effects of fire on vegetation and fuels. This information helps managers determine if burn objectives are met, and increases our understanding of fire's ecological role in these parks.

Two people sit on the ground looking at samples of soil.
2011 sampling of soil moisture in the area burned in the 2010 Navashak Lake East fire in Noatak National Preserve approximately one year before.


Scientific study of wildland fire is a cornerstone of fire management. In order to learn about fire’s effects on an ecosystem or assist managers in applying fire to a landscape to meet objectives, information must be gathered and processed. Gathering data about change over time, both pre- and post- fire gives managers valuable information about how ecosystems function.

Ecologists, biologists, botanists, and even archeologists are among the many scientists who study fire.

Has a prescribed fire been successful in allowing native plants to thrive over non-native species? Has animal habitat improved as the result of a wildfire? These questions, and dozens of others, can be answered through scientific study over time, and observing and recording the changes on the landscape. Learn more…

The National Park Service has a strong fire science and ecology program seeks to understand when fires occurred in the past, how plants and animals in various environments respond and adapt to fire, and how fires and their effects may change in the future. Learn more…

Sometimes, scientists have a hand in helping the land to recover after a fire. Many areas in national parks recover from wildfire with no intervention. However, when a fire severely burns an area, rehabilitation of a burned area helps the land recover. Learn more…

Learning from the Parks


Last updated: January 22, 2020