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Fire as a Teacher
MRIC 2013/14

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Fire as a Teacher

“Fire as a Teacher: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Wildfire”

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 | 12:30-1:30 p.m. 
Whitewater Room, Idaho Commons

Crystal Kolden - Assistant Professor, Department of Geography

Wildfire is often described as a catastrophe, a disaster, a disturbance, and other menacing and negative terms. In reality, wildfire is a natural occurrence that is central to the functional ecologies of most global ecosystems, and it is our human perspectives and inabilities to deal with wildfire and its impacts that are the disaster. While there are numerous suggestions from the media, politicians, and citizens for how to deal with the wildfire “problem,” science offers a clearer picture of the path forward. Utilization of the best available climate and science information, as well as learning from past fire events, can help communities redefine their relationship with wildfire and begin to embrace it across fire-prone landscapes.

Crystal Kolden earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Cornell University, a master’s in geography from the University of Nevada and a Ph.D. in geography from Clark University. Her background includes over a decade of employment with the U.S. Forest Service (including time as a wildland firefighter) and the U.S. Geological Survey. Her research focuses on science applications and technology transfer for public policy makers and land use managers, working primarily in the western United States and Alaska. She is interested in large-scale abiotic and disturbance factors such as wildfire, invasive species, and climate change. Dr. Kolden joined the University of Idaho Geography Department in 2010.

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