MOSCOW, Idaho — At the University of Idaho, a team of researchers make wildfires their business.
In fact, the university has the oldest wildfire research program in the country. Right now, staff members are studying several aspects of fires and how they affect the environment.
Dr. Charles Goebel is what you could call a wildfire expert. He's part of a research team studying all wildfires, all the time.
"Our program is focused on understanding the ecology and management of fire," he said.
Over a dozen faculty members make up the research team. The specific topics are wide ranging like prescribed burns, and how effective those are, how wildfires impact climate change and how much rest and nutrition smoke jumpers receive on the fire lines.
"A lot of what we do is taking the science and putting that into practice," Goebel said.
Goebel said that over the next decade or two, the amount of people living in wildfire-prone areas may double or triple. Wildfires affect thousands of people and other aspects, like smoke, seem to get to all of us.
"We're really making a difference in terms of people’s lives," he said.
U of I also has experimental forests where students and staff can do prescribed burns and other activities hands on. Now more than ever wildfires are serious business. There along the way, will be Vandal researchers helping us fully understand those fires.