Wildfires a Hot Topic at EastFIRE Conference

Posted: June 5, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

Many people may not know that while most of the country’s federal fire-fighting funds go to the western United States, approximately 70 percent of the total wildfires in the United States occur in the eastern states.

So far this year, more than 475,000 acres of land have already burned in the eastern United States, which encompasses states east of the Mississippi River valley, and forecasters predict annual trends to worsen over the next 50 years.

In an effort to educate the next generation of fire experts and scientists on the growing need for research to prevent, fight and control wildfires, Mason is hosting the 2007 EastFIRE Conference today through June 8 in the Johnson Center and Research I on the Fairfax Campus.

The conference is called “Climate-Demographics-Management — the 21st Century Fire Triangle.” More than 100 presentations are scheduled in plenary, concurrent and poster sessions, in addition to four panel sessions. William T. Sommers, director of the EastFIRE Laboratory at Mason, is chair of the Advisory Committee that planned the conference.

With more than 70 percent of the U.S. population and more than half of the nation’s total forestland, the eastern United States is subject to climate change stress. For this reason, leaders from the fire management, policy and science communities will discuss ideas and exchange information on how to plan for the combined challenges of climate and demographic change.

The program will include such traditional fire science components as fuel management, fire ecology, smoke management and fire weather. For a complete conference schedule, visit the EastFIRE Laboratory web site.

Write to at