How artificial intelligence plus local expertise can promote ‘good fire’ in Montana

  • Source: NBC Montana
  • Published: 09/22/2023 12:00 AM

On an unassuming hillside in the Lolo National Forest outside Missoula, tall piles of dead branches and hand-thinned small trees dot the forest floor on either side of a winding dirt road. It’s late August, and Missoula District Ranger Crystal Stonesifer and members of the district’s fire management team stand outside their pickup truck and look over the mounds of woody debris, evidence of treatments being applied to the forest to slow future wildfires. The piles indicate work in progress on what’s called a shaded fuel break — a forested area where smaller fuels have been cleared to prevent a wildfire from gaining momentum. These piles will eventually be burned, leaving behind an uncrowded stand of larger trees, which is an easier place for firefighters to stop a blaze.


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