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News Release July 18, 2003
GSA Release No. 03-21
Contact: Contact: Ann Cairns
Phone: 303-357-1056; Fax: 303-357-1074

Wildland Fire Impacts on Watersheds: A Special Conference of The Geological Society of America

Boulder, CO – Wildland fires are an inevitable fact of nature; recently they’ve also been viewed as a national security issue. They burn more than two million acres in the United States each year. Extended drought conditions, as well as common land management and development practices, make wildland ecosystems even more vulnerable to catastrophic damage.

When watershed areas burn, the threat is particularly ominous. Forest and rangeland watersheds serve as primary sources of drinking water for much of the population of the U.S. Yet many municipalities are unaware of what is likely to follow a fire and unprepared to deal with the consequences.

On October 21-23, 2003, scientists will gather with land managers, resource specialists, and fire management planners in Englewood, CO, for Wildland Fire Impacts on Watersheds: Understanding, Planning, and Response. Sponsored by the Geological Society of America, the meeting will be held at the Sheraton Denver Tech Center Hotel. A partial list of participating organizations includes the International Association of Wildland Fire, the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the American Water Works Association, and The Nature Conservancy.

The meeting program will focus on geomorphological processes set in motion in the aftermath of wildland fire. Their impacts will be examined through a combination of talks and field trips to recent burn sites in Colorado. Topics such as soil erosion, debris flows, flooding, mass wasting, degraded water quality, and other environmental issues will be covered, along with strategies for mitigation.

Representatives of the media are invited to attend. Registration is complimentary although space is limited. Inquiries may be directed to Ann Cairns, Director of Communications, Geological Society of America ( Writers interested but unable to attend should contact Ann Cairns for assistance.

Partial funding for this conference is provided by the U.S. Geological Survey Joint Fire Science Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

For more information visit The complete scientific program will be available for viewing online in mid- to late August.


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