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Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences
Fire Ecology and Management Student conducting a prescribed burn in Nebraska

What is Fire Science?

Wildland fire science explores basic and applied research on important local, state, regional, national and international natural resource science and management questions related to wildland fire. Our Wildland Fire Program focuses on forests, woodlands, shrublands, and grasslands -- any ecosystem where fires occur – at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales: from individual plants to global scales and from the Holocene to predicted future events. Our program aims to be internationally recognized for our high impact contributions to wildland fire science and management.

Applied physics, chemistry, biology, social sciences and mathematics are central to wildland fire science, but the way this gets applied depends on understanding social, political and economic realities. Wildland fire scientists not only seek to study the natural world but their science directly helps land managers to make sound, well-informed decisions. Advancements in this applied science have directly helped improve the quality of life of many people in the Idaho and the West. Understanding why and how wildland fires burn allows managers and policy makers to plan and mitigate undesirable effects such as smoke and air quality impacts and the loss of property and lives, while balancing those with the desirable effects of fire, including consuming fuel, recycling nutrients, altering vegetation structure, and improving habitat for many (not all) plants and animals. You will also learn to collaborate effectively with others to address issues important to people and their communities. Our students engage in hands-on learning, including prescribed burning, laboratory and field trips, and linking computer analysis to field measurements to make sound plans and decisions.