Diskussion:Brände im Yellowstone-Nationalpark 1988

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Einflussfaktoren[Quelltext bearbeiten]

1965: typischer Kiefernwald im Yellowstone

Die offizielle Aufzeichnungen zu Bränden im Yellowstone begannen 1931 als das „Heart Lake Feuer“ 73km² vernichtete. Trotz dieser geringen Ausdehnung war es der größte Brand in der Zeit zwischen der Parkgründung und dem Jahr 1988. Nachforschungen zeigen, dass auf dem Yellowstone Plateau in 1000 Jahren nur 2 oder 4 große Brände auftreten.<ref name="Franke1">Mary Ann Franke: The Role of Fire in Yellowstone (pdf) In: Yellowstone in the Afterglow. National Park Service. 2000. Abgerufen am 28. Juli 2007.</ref><ref name="Romme">W.H. Romme, D.G. Despain: Historical perspective on the Yellowstone Fires of 1988. In: Bioscience. 39, Nr. 10, November 1989, S. 696–699. doi:10.2307/1311000. Abgerufen am 1. August 2007.</ref> Der letzter große Brand im Yellowstone war in der ersten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhundert, lang vor der Ankunft der weißen Entdecker.<ref name="Franke2">Mary Ann Franke: The Summer of 1988 (pdf) In: Yellowstone in the Afterglow. National Park Service. 2000. Abgerufen am 17. Juli 2007.</ref>

Die Wälder im Yellowstone wurden von der Küsten-Kiefer dominiert und werden möglicherweise durch den Alterungsprozess eines Waldes nach 80 bis 100 Jahren von anderen Baumspezies ersetzt.<ref name="lodgepole">James E. Lotan: Lodgepole Pine. In: Pinus contorta. U.S. Forest Service. Abgerufen am 28. Juli 2007.</ref> Die durch die Höhe und das wenige Erdreich bedingten, sehr kurzen Wachstumsphasen lassen die Küsten-Kiefern ein Alter von 300 Jahren erreichen, bis sich andere Baumpopulationen mit Engelmann-Fichten und Felsengebirgs-Tannen etablieren.<ref name="lodgepole"/> Die auf dem ganzen Yellowstone-Plateau zu findenden Küsten-Kiefern wachsen in ununterbrochenen, dichten Populationen in Gruppen relativ gleichen Alters. In den 1980er Jahren waren viele der Küsten-Kiefer-Wälder des Yellowstone zwischen 200 und 250 Jahre als womit sie das Ende ihres Lebenszyklus erreichten.<ref name="Franke2"/>

-> Trennung dt / eng

The mountain pine beetle killed a number of trees in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. This created a heterogeneous forest in which old surviving trees were mixed with younger trees of various ages. This mixed stand structure may have provided ladder fuels that contributed to the fires.<ref name="Lynch">Heather Lynch, Roy A. Renkin Robert L. Crabtree and Paul R. Moorcroft: The Influence of Previous Mountain Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) Activity on the 1988 Yellowstone Fires. In: Ecosystems. 2006, Nr. 9, January 19, 2007, S. 1318–1327. doi:10.1007/s10021-006-0173-3. Abgerufen am 28. Juli 2007.</ref> In addition, the winter season of 1987–1988 was drier than usual, with the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem receiving only 31% of the normal snowpack.<ref name="Franke2"/> However, April and May 1988 were very wet and the abundant moisture greatly aided grass and understory development. By June, the rainfall stopped and little was recorded in the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for the next four months. By July, the worst drought in the history of Yellowstone National Park began. Grasses and plants which grew well in the early summer soon turned to dry tinder. Relative humidity levels fell further, desiccating the forest. Fuel moisture content in dead and fallen timber was recorded as low as 5%. By mid-August, humidity levels were averaging below 20% and were recorded as low as 6% on one occasion.<ref name="Franke2"/> To compound the lack of rainfall, the majority of Yellowstone's soils are rhyolitic volcanic rocks and soils which have poor moisture retention.<ref name="Franke1"/> A series of strong but dry storm fronts also led to the rapid spread of a number of the largest fires.

Accumulated fuel, old forests, and unabated and exceptionally dry conditions spelled trouble for Yellowstone. However, foresters and fire ecologists predicted a normal fire season for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and anticipated normal rainfall for July.<ref name="Franke2"/> Past history provided little evidence to suggest that 1988 would be any different than the previous 100 plus years the park had existed. But, as major fires started to break out throughout the Rocky Mountain region, the media began to take notice. Twenty small fires started in Yellowstone by July and of those, eleven went out on their own. The remainder were closely monitored in accordance with the prescribed natural fire policies. By July 15 fires throughout the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem had burned Vorlage:Convert and though this was not out of the ordinary, media focus on fires raging throughout the American west influenced the decision by the park officials to initiate fire suppression efforts on July 15. Within a week after suppression efforts commenced, the fires had spread to include almost Vorlage:Convert just on the parkland alone.<ref name="wildfire"/>

Major fires in Yellowstone in 1988[Quelltext bearbeiten]

Firefighting at Norris on August 20, 1988, a day that was later dubbed "Black Saturday" due to the huge amount of land that was burned as well as the dense smoke that turned daytime to night in some places.
Ground fires in Grant Village quickly climbed trees into the canopy and became crown fires.
Yellowstone fires 1988 bc.gif
Progression of various fires in the Greater Yellowstone region, July to October, 1988.
The Clover Mist fire races north across the Mirror Plateau during a firestorm.
A firestorm from the North Fork fire approaches the Old Faithful complex on September 7, 1988.

Almost 250 different fires started in Yellowstone and the surrounding National Forests between June and August. Seven of them were responsible for 95% of the total burned area.<ref name="Schullery2">Paul Schullery: The Fires and Fire Policy. In: Bioscience. 39, Nr. 10, November 1989, S. 686–694. doi:10.2307/1310999. Abgerufen am 1. August 2007.</ref> At the end of July, the National Park Service and other agencies had fully mobilized available personnel, and yet the fires continued to expand. Smaller fires burned into each other, propelled by dry storms which brought howling winds and dry lightning strikes but no rain. On August 20, the single worst day of the fires and later dubbed "Black Saturday", more than Vorlage:Convert were consumed during one of many firestorms. Ash from the firestorms throughout the park drifted as far away as Billings, Montana, 60 miles (96 km) to the northeast.<ref name="Franke2"/> The wind driven flames jumped roads and firelines, and burning embers started new fires a mile (1.6 km) or more ahead of the main fires. Ground fires raced the fuel ladder to the forest canopy and became crown fires with flames over 200 feet (60 m) high. On that single day, more Yellowstone land burned than in all other fires combined since the establishment of the park.<ref name="Lewis"/> Throughout the summer, fires made huge advances of 5 to 10 miles (8–16 km) a day, and there were even occasions when more than 2 miles (3.2 km) in one hour were recorded.<ref name="disaster">Yellowstone and the Politics of Disaster (pdf) In: A Test of Adversity and Strength: Wildland Fire in the National Park System. National Park Service. Abgerufen am 30. Juli 2007.</ref>

One large group of fires was known as the Snake River Complex. These fires were in the southern section of the park, in the headwaters region of the Yellowstone and Snake Rivers. The largest fire in the group was the Shoshone fire which was started by lightning on June 23. The prescribed natural burn policy was still in effect, and at first no efforts were made to suppress this fire. It smoldered with little movement for several weeks, then rapidly started expanding towards the northeast on July 20.<ref name="Rothermel">Richard Rothermel, Roberta Hartford and Carolyn Chase: Fire Growth Maps for the 1988 Greater Yellowstone Area Fires. U.S. Forest Service. January 1994. Abgerufen am 30. Juli 2007.</ref>

The Red fire started near Lewis Lake on July 1 and like the Shoshone fire, advanced little for several weeks. The fire then moved northeast on July 19 and combined with the Shoshone fire in August. As these two fires advanced towards the Grant Village area, evacuations were ordered so fire fighting crews could concentrate on structure protection. In the midst of a large lodgepole pine forest, the Grant Village complex was the first major tourist area impacted that season. A number of small structures and some of the campground complex were destroyed. After the Red and Shoshone fires combined, they were referred to as the Shoshone fire, since it was much larger.

The Mink fire started in Bridger-Teton National Forest from lightning on July 11, and burned north following the Yellowstone River valley, after firefighters forced the fire away from private lands. The Mink fire eventually burned sections inside the park after July 23, but was deemed to be a low risk since it was in a very remote section of the park.<ref name="Rothermel"/>

The third large fire was the Huck fire, which started after a tree fell on a power line on August 20. This fire burned primarily in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, crossing Yellowstone's southern border on August 30.<ref name="Schullery"/><ref name="Franke2"/> The Snake River Complex of fires burned more than 140,000 acres (570 km²) before they were extinguished by wet weather in the fall. One of the most striking events of this fire complex occurred on August 23 when firestorms swept across the Lewis River Canyon, propelled by winds of 60 mph (96 km/h) and gusting to 80 mph (128 km/h).<ref name="Lewis">Lodgepole Pine Forests & Fire. In: Grant Village Area Natural Highlights. National Park Service. July 11, 2006. Abgerufen am 28. Juli 2007.</ref>

The Mist fire started on July 9 in the eastern section of the park in the Absaroka Mountains. Two days later, the Clover fire started in the same region and both fires combined and were renamed as the Clover Mist fire on July 20. Burning in rugged terrain, this fire was very difficult to fight and on August 20, the fire advanced from the south towards the small town of Cooke City, Montana and continued to threaten the town for several more weeks.<ref name="Rothermel"/> The Clover Mist fire eventually consumed more than 140,000 acres (570 km²).<ref name="Schullery"/>

The Storm Creek fire started on June 14 well north of the park in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, and for almost two months seemed to pose little threat to Yellowstone. Then, on August 20, the fire moved rapidly to the south also threatening the town of Cooke City, this time from the north. An effort to bulldoze a wide fire break and set backfires to try and starve the fires of combustibles almost led to disaster when an unexpected change in wind direction brought the fires to within a hundred yards of parts of the town, forcing evacuations on September 6.

The other major fire located in the northern section of the park was the Hellroaring fire. Started in Gallatin National Forest on August 15 from embers from an unattended campfire, the fire initially moved north, but then turned around a few days later and moved south, threatening the area near Tower Junction.<ref name="Rothermel"/>

In the northwest, the Fan fire started on June 25 and was originally considered a threat to the town of Gardiner, Montana, just outside the park's north entrance. It was the most successfully fought of all the 1988 fires. Though the fire was not contained for a couple of months, by mid-August it was no longer considered a threat to lives and property.<ref name="Rothermel"/>

The largest fire in the park was the North Fork fire, both in terms of damage to structures and of area burned. The fire started on July 22 when a man cutting timber dropped his cigarette in Caribou-Targhee National Forest just outside the park's western border.<ref name="cdc">Christopher Reh, Scott Deitchman: Health Hazard Evaluation Report No. 88-320 (pdf) In: HETA 88-320-2176. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. February 1992. Abgerufen am 29. Juli 2007.</ref> The North Fork fire was the only major fire that was fought from the beginning since it started after the prescribed fire policy was halted on July 15.<ref name="disaster"/> The fire spread towards the northeast and by the end of the first week of August was threatening Madison Junction and nearby campground facilities. The fire then raced towards Norris Junction on August 20. Firefighters there used water and foam to keep the structures from being consumed by the blaze. The fire continued its westward advance along the Yellowstone Plateau and on August 25 reached visitor facilities at Canyon, where land management agencies and the U.S. military put forth enormous efforts to protect structures. The eastern flank of the fire calmed down for several days, then down-sloping winds off the Yellowstone Plateau forced flames along the west side of the fire towards the town of West Yellowstone, Montana.<ref name="Rothermel"/> There, private citizens assisted assigned personnel in soaking hundreds of acres of forestland to protect both the town and an electrical power substation. The fire burned a substantial section of forest along the Madison River valley.

Between September 5 and 7, a dry front pushed flames along the southern section of the North Fork fire towards the large Old Faithful visitor complex adjacent to the Upper Geyser Basin.<ref name="Rothermel"/> All non-emergency personnel were ordered to be evacuated; however, political issues influenced National Park Service management directives and the complex was not completely closed to incoming tourists, with some visitors still arriving at Old Faithful not long before the main firestorm hit by mid afternoon. An all out aerial bombardment with air tankers dropping fire retardant failed.<ref name="disaster"/> Firefighters concentrated on structure protection, especially those of historical significance such as the Old Faithful Inn, using fire engines and portable water pumping systems to keep the roofs and other surfaces of the structures wet. 1,200 firefighters including 120 military personnel dug fire lines and cleared away brush near structures. Winds crested up to 80 mph (128 km/h) as the fire approached from the west.<ref name="Barker1">Rocky Barker: Under Fire. Forest Magazine. Spring 2006. Abgerufen am 1. August 2007.</ref>

The fires spread to forested sections near to, but generally away from major structures, but 19 small structures were destroyed and there was also extensive damage to an old dormitory. The fire was so intense that vehicles left near the fire had their wheels melted, windshields shattered and paint scorched.<ref name="disaster"/> Though most of the Old Faithful complex had been spared, the park service decided that for the first time, the entire park would be closed to non-emergency personnel on September 8. The night of the 9th and the morning of the 10th of September, the North Fork fire jumped a fireline along its northeastern flank and approached Mammoth Hot Springs where a large concentration of historical structures as well as the Park Headquarters is located. Rain and snow arrived in time to slow the fires before they threatened the complex. By the time the North Fork fire finally died down, it was responsible for 60% of the burned area within the park; more than 400,000 acres (1,600 km²).<ref name="Schullery"/>

Colder weather, bringing with it rain and snow on September 11 calmed the fires down substantially throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Though the fires continued to burn well into the middle of November, they never again posed an immediate risk to life or property. Many fire crews were sent home, but additional manpower continued to arrive at Yellowstone to rehabilitate areas that had been affected by the firefighting efforts. Hundreds of miles of firelines, helicopter landing zones and fire camps needed to be restored to a more natural state, and thousands of hazardous dead trees needed to be cut down to protect roads and buildings. Finally, on November 18, all fires in Yellowstone were officially declared out.<ref name="Franke2"/>

Fighting the fires[Quelltext bearbeiten]

Firefighters on the fireline near Mammoth Hot Springs, September 10, 1988.

1988 was a big year for wildfires in the western United States, with more than 72,000 fires reported during the year, including 300 rated as major.<ref name="disaster"/> Firefighting employees and equipment were stretched to the limit, and consequently, over 6,000 U.S. Military personnel assisted in the fire fighting efforts nationwide, with more than 600 assigned to Yellowstone. At the height of the fires, over 9,000 firefighters and support personnel were assigned to Yellowstone at one time, and by the time the fires finally went out, more than 25,000 had been involved in the fire suppression efforts. Crews would normally work for 2 to 3 weeks, be sent home, and then return for one or two more tours of duty. The normal workday was as long as 14 hours.<ref name="Franke2"/> Assignments included digging firelines, watering down buildings, clearing undergrowth near structures, and installing water pumps. Hundreds of firefighters were assigned to engine crews, as much of the firefighting effort was aimed at protecting structures. No firefighters died in the park as a result of the fires, but one firefighter and an aircraft pilot died in separate incidents outside the park.<ref name="wildfire"/> A number of firefighters were treated for various injuries with the more common complaints being fatigue, headaches, and smoke inhalation. A few firefighters were exposed to noxious fumes from sulfur emissions from a geothermal area.<ref name="Franke3">Mary Ann Franke: Damage to Park Facilities (pdf) In: Yellowstone in the Afterglow. National Park Service. 2000. Abgerufen am 17. Juli 2007.</ref>

Firefighters created 655 miles (1,054 km) of fireline by hand and 137 miles (220 km) with mechanized equipment such as bulldozers.<ref name="Romme"/> Most of the bulldozer work was done on the North Fork fire. Some other fires were too remote or in too steep terrain for the safe operation of heavy equipment, and bulldozers were prohibited from many areas because of the impact they have on surface features. Additionally, the thin, unstable ground near the park's geothermal features could not be trusted to support the weight of heavy equipment.<ref name="Franke3"/> Bulldozers are rarely used on fires in U.S. National Parks.

Some 120 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft were used to combat the inferno. Aircraft logged over 18,000 hours of flight time and dropped Vorlage:Convert of fire retardant and Vorlage:Convert of water on the fires.<ref name="Schullery2"/>

More than 100 fire engines were assigned to the fire.<ref name="Young"/> Structural fire engines were used in building complexes, where a number are stationed permanently as in urban settings. Smaller wildland fire engines suitable for movement over rough terrain were deployed throughout the park.

$120 million was spent fighting the fires, while structure loss was estimated at $3 million. Later analysis has shown that, aside from concentrated fire suppression efforts near major tourist facilities, the firefighting work failed to stop what was likely an unstoppable force.<ref name="Franke1"/><ref name="disaster"/>

Impacts on the park[Quelltext bearbeiten]

Vegetation and wildlife[Quelltext bearbeiten]

In this 2006 image, dead snags still stand almost 20 years after the fires, but lodgepole pines are thriving in the understory.
The year after the fires, and for a number of years afterwards, wildflowers were abundant in burned areas.
A bull elk surveys a recently burned area.

The fires in Yellowstone burned in a mosaic pattern, with some areas greatly impacted and others only marginally affected. Inside fire perimeters, large expanses of forest were completely untouched.<ref name="Knight">Dennis H. Knight, Linda L. Wallace: The Yellowstone Fires: Issues in Landscape Ecology. In: Bioscience. 39, Nr. 10, November 1989, S. 700–706. doi:10.2307/1311001. Abgerufen am 4. August 2007.</ref> There were three major types of burning. From an aesthetic viewpoint, the most destructive fires were the canopy crown fires that in many places obliterated entire forests. Crown fires accounted for about 41 percent of all the area that burned.<ref name="Franke4">May Ann Franke: Changes in the Landscape (pdf) In: Yellowstone in the Afterglow. National Park Service. 2000. Abgerufen am 3. August 2007.</ref> Mixed fires burned both the canopy and vegetation on the ground, or burned one or the other as they spread through the forest. Ground fires spread slowly along the ground, consuming smaller plants and dead plant material; some ground fires burned for longer duration and intensity, contributing to the loss of many trees whose canopies were never directly burned.

The recovery from the fires began almost immediately, with plants such as fireweed appearing in a matter of days after a fire had passed. While surrounding national forests did some replanting and even dispersed grass seed by airplane, the regeneration in Yellowstone was generally so complete that no replanting was even attempted.<ref name="Franke4"/> Though some small plants did not immediately reassume their pre-fire habitats, most did, and the vast majority of plants regrew from existing sprouts which survived the heat from the fires. There was a profusion of wildflowers in burned areas, especially between two and five years after the fires.<ref name="Romme2">William H. Romme, Laura Bohland, Cynthia Persichetty, Tanya Caruso: Germination Ecology of Some Common Forest Herbs in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, U.S.A.. In: Arctic and Alpine Research. 27, Nr. 4, November 1995, S. 407–412. doi:10.2307/1552034. Abgerufen am 8. August 2007.</ref>

Seeds had little distance to travel, even in severely burned areas. Much of the most badly burned forest was within 160 to 650 feet (50 to 200 m) of less affected areas. Still, most regeneration of the plants and trees came from immediate sources, either above or below ground. Lodgepole pines generally do not disperse their seeds more than 200 feet (60 m), so seed dispersal from less burned parts apparently had little effect on more severely burned areas.<ref name="Franke4"/> In regions that did experience complete burnouts, the average depth of charred soil was only about half an inch (14 mm), so few roots, even of grasses, were killed by the fire. This allowed rapid regeneration throughout the ecosystem.<ref name="Turner2">Monica Turner, William H Romme and Daniel B Tinker: Surprises and lessons from the 1988 Yellowstone fires. (pdf) In: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 1, Nr. 7, 2003, S. 351–358. Abgerufen am 3. August 2007.</ref>

The predominant tree in Yellowstone, the lodgepole pine, fared poorly from the fires, except in areas where the heat and flames were very mild. The lodgepole pine is serotinous and often produces pine cones that remain closed and will not disperse seeds unless subjected to fire. Research of test plots established after the fires indicated that the best seed dispersal occurred in areas which had experienced severe ground fires, and that seed dispersal was lowest in areas which had only minor surface burns.<ref name="Turner2"/> Regions with crown fires sometimes had the highest rates of regeneration of lodgepole pine after 5 years.<ref name="Turner">Monica Turner, William W. Hargrove, Robert H. Gardner, William H. Romme: Effects of Fire on Landscape Heterogeneity in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. In: Journal of Vegetation Science. 5, Nr. 5, November 1994, S. 731–742. doi:10.2307/3235886. Abgerufen am 1. August 2007.</ref> However, the rate of lodgepole regeneration was not uniform, with some areas seeing extremely high densities of new growth while other areas had less. Stands of dead lodgepole killed by the fires may persist for decades, rising above new growth and providing habitat for birds and other wildlife.<ref name="Franke4"/>

Aspen became more widespread after the fires, occupying areas that had been dominated by conifers. It had long been believed that Aspen regenerated by sprouting from existing roots rather than by seed dispersal. However, Aspen sprouts appeared two years after the fires as far as 9 miles (15 km) from the nearest known Aspen trees. Aspen is a preferred grazing food for elk and many of the newer Aspen are consequently small, except in areas that are harder for elk to get to.<ref name="Turner2"/> The resurgence of Aspen after the fires was a contrast to pre-fire events, as Aspen had been increasingly scarce in the park. This might be a temporary event as conifers continue to grow and eventually crowd out other tree species.<ref name="Franke4"/>

Contrary to media reports and speculation at the time, the fires killed very few park animals— surveys indicated that only about 345 elk (of an estimated 40,000–50,000), 36 mule deer, 12 moose, 6 black bears, and 9 bison had perished.<ref name="wildfire"/><ref name="Singer">Francis Singer, William Schreier, Jill Oppenheim, Edward O. Garton: Drought, Fires, and Large Mammals. In: Bioscience. 39, Nr. 10, November 1989, S. 716–722. doi:10.2307/1311003. Abgerufen am 6. August 2007.</ref> Of 21 grizzlies that were radio-collared and had home ranges where the fires happened, only one was believed to have been lost. Grizzlies were observed in burned areas more often than unburned areas the following year, feeding on the proliferation of roots and foliage as well as on ants which thrived due to all the dead wood.<ref name="grizzly">Wildfires and Grizzly Bears (pdf) In: Living with Grizzlies. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. June 2003. Abgerufen am 3. August 2007.</ref> Moose had been declining in the northern sections of the park since the 1960s, but the decline became more obvious after the fires. Unlike elk, which are primarily grazers and tend to eat grasses, moose are more likely to be browsers, consuming primarily woody food sources, particularly willow and subalpine fir, which were temporarily reduced by the fires. All ungulates experienced a high initial mortality the winter after the fires, but this has been attributed to a severe winter more than the fires themselves. However, moose populations, unlike other ungulates, have not rebounded in subsequent years. Rodents likely experienced the highest mortality of all mammals due not only to heat and smoke they could not easily escape, but also because of the reduction in forest cover, allowing would-be predators less difficulty in spotting them.<ref name="Stone">Richard Stone: Yellowstone Rising Again From Ashes of Devastating Fires. In: Science. 280, Nr. 5, Juni 1998, S. 1527–1528. doi:10.1126/science.280.5369.1527. Abgerufen am 3. August 2008.</ref>

Approximately 100 dead fish were reported in two streams after fire retardant was accidentally dropped on them. Aside from a temporary decrease in a few species of aquatic insects, no long term impact has been observed on aquatic life in any of Yellowstone's rivers or lakes.<ref name="Franke6">Mary Ann Franke: Watershed and Stream Dynamics (pdf) In: Yellowstone in the Afterglow. National Park Service. 2000. Abgerufen am 17. Juli 2007.</ref>

Air and water[Quelltext bearbeiten]

Smoky conditions obscure the Absaroka Mountains.

The smoke and airborne particulates from the fires posed a threat to local communities on several occasions. Smoke and particulates were especially high in Gardiner, Montana. There, monitoring stations maintained by the Montana Department of Health and Environmental Sciences and the park recorded 19 days where recommended allowable particulate concentrations were exceeded. This was also the case near fires, and on 7 occasions at Mammoth, Montana, the location of the park headquarters. In no other surrounding communities were particulates found to be above acceptable levels. Smoke and haze made driving difficult and sometimes even dangerous. A number of fire fighters were treated at clinics for smoke and dust inhalation and a few for inadvertently inhaling fumes from a sulfur ignition near one of the geothermal areas.<ref name="Franke2"/>

In the aftermath of the fires, erosion was a particular concern, especially as the rains were heavy the following year. Helicopters dropped millions of gallons of water on the fires, and water retrieval from a few small creeks actually dropped the water level temporarily. Stream flow was also affected by water-pumping operations. The more than a million gallons of ammonium phosphate based fire-retardant material polluted some streams, but this too was transient and had no long term ill effects on water quality.<ref name="Franke6"/> Fire fighting foams used on wildfires differ from those used for other situations such as fuel fires. They are very low in toxicity and were believed to have completely dispersed by the spring of 1989.<ref name="Franke3"/>

Structure damage[Quelltext bearbeiten]

Firefighters sprayed foam on structures in the Mammoth Hot Springs complex on September 10, 1988.

The park service gave priority to life and property in their efforts to suppress the fires. Of the more than 1,000 structures located in the park, only 67 were destroyed. There were 400 structures in the Old Faithful complex and only 19 of these were destroyed, 12 of which were concessionaire housing units and relatively inexpensive to replace.<ref name="Franke3"/> Major tourist locations in the park such as the one at Old Faithful were heavily staffed by fire fighting crews and equipment, especially at times of immediate danger. Fire fighters used a variety of methods to establish safe zones in and near these complexes, yet every single visitor complex was evacuated by non-critical personnel at least once during the fires.<ref name="Franke2"/>

Of the 38 backcountry patrol cabins used by park rangers and park staff, the only one lost to the fires was at Sportsman Lake, and it was rebuilt the following summer. However, fires did a lot of damage to numerous campgrounds, backcountry bridges, and 10 miles (16 km) of power lines and 300 utility poles. Some of the boardwalks used to keep tourists elevated above geothermal areas were also destroyed, but were quickly replaced.<ref name="Franke3"/>

Media coverage[Quelltext bearbeiten]

News crews were required to wear firefighting clothing known as Nomex whenever they were near fires.

Since Yellowstone is one of the most famous national parks in the world, news coverage was extensive and sometimes sensational. Federal officials sometimes had only limited information to present to the media. The National Park Service was besieged by 3,000 media requests, not all of which the two park public information officers were able to grant, even with the assistance of a staff of over 40 employees. 16 more park personnel were assigned the role of liaisons with the media where fire fighting manpower was concentrated. By the time the fires were under control in mid-November, the park was still receiving 40 to 70 media requests daily.<ref name="Franke2"/> Media coverage of the fires brought the National Park Service more national attention than it had ever received, and the 1988 fire season has been called one of the most important events in the history of that agency.<ref name="Young"/>

Lack of understanding of wildfire management by the media led to some sensationalist reporting and inaccuracies.<ref name="education">Background Information. In: Fire and Aviation Management. National Park Service. Abgerufen am 16. Juli 2007.</ref> Some news agencies gave the impression that most of the park was being destroyed.<ref name="Smith">Conrad Smith: Media Coverage of the 1988 Yellowstone Fires. In: Wildland Fire. National Interagency Fire Center. Abgerufen am 16. Juli 2007.</ref> On August 30, an ABC News interview with Stanley Mott, apparently a tourist, incorrectly identified him as the Director of the National Park Service (William Mott). In another story, The New York Times stated that the Park Service policy was to allow natural fires to burn themselves out, whereas that of the U.S. Forest Service was to suppress all such fires—a mischaracterization of the policies of both agencies.<ref name="Smith"/> The media also had some difficulty distinguishing between these two completely separate agencies. Sources quoted by The Washington Post, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune later stated that comments attributed to them were fabricated, and one source commented that a September 8, 1988 report by the Chicago Tribune had more errors than facts. On the same day, The Washington Post associated the smoke and presence of military vehicles and helicopters overhead with the 1968 events in Da Nang, Vietnam, giving the impression of catastrophe.<ref name="Petersen">Cass Petersen, T.R. Reid: Flames and Images of War Swirl Through Yellowstone; Fires Destroy Buildings Near Old Faithful, The Washington Post. September 11, 1988. Abgerufen am 16. Juli 2007. </ref> The fires had been very active in late July. In early August, fire managers reached a conclusion that the fires would not likely expand much further, due to a lack of fuel,<ref name="Franke2"/> and the Director of the National Park Service declared on August 11 that the fires were contained.<ref name="disaster"/> When this optimistic announcement was followed by Black Saturday on August 20, and the firestorm that threatened the Old Faithful complex in early September, the media were again highly critical of the park service and their policies.

Fire management since 1988[Quelltext bearbeiten]

As a result of research conducted after the fires, a new fire management plan for Yellowstone was implemented in 1992. The plan observed stricter guidelines for the management of natural fires, increased the staffing levels of fire monitors and related occupations, and allocated greater funding for fire management. By 2004, further amendments to the wildland fire management plan were added. According to the 2004 plan, natural wildfires are allowed to burn, so long as parameters regarding fire size, weather and potential danger were not exceeded. Those fires that do exceed the standards, as well as all human-caused fires, are to be suppressed.<ref name="plan">Fire Management Plan. In: 2004 Update of the 1992 Wildland Fire Management Plan. National Park Service. June 11, 2007. Abgerufen am 8. August 2007.</ref> However, these changes are primarily updates of the 1972 fire management plan and continue to emphasize the role of fire in maintaining a natural ecosystem, but apply stricter guidelines and lower levels of tolerance.<ref name="prescribed">Prescribed Fire. In: Fire Management. National Park Service. June 11, 2007. Abgerufen am 10. August 2007.</ref>

Increased fire monitoring through ground based and aerial reconnaissance has been implemented to quickly determine how a particular fire will be managed. Fire monitors first determine if a fire is natural or human-caused. All human-caused fires are suppressed since they are unnatural, while natural fires are monitored. Fire monitors map the fire perimeter, record local weather, examine the types of fuels burning and the amount of fuel available. Additionally, they investigate the rate of spread, flame lengths, fuel moisture content and other characteristics of each fire. Monitors relay the information they gather to fire managers who then make determinations on future actions.<ref name="monitoring">Fire Monitoring. In: Fire Management. National Park Service. June 18, 2007. Abgerufen am 10. August 2007.</ref>

Land management employees remove dead and hazardous fuels from areas as prioritized by the Hazard Fuels Reduction Plan. This is to ensure fires have less opportunity to threaten lives, historical structures, and visitor facilities. As of 2007, fuel is reduced within 400 feet (120 m) of structures and other high-priority locations.<ref name="hazard">Yellowstone National Park Structure Protection and Firefighter Safety Hazard Fuels Management Guidelines (pdf) In: Yellowstone National Park Fire Management Plan. National Park Service. 2005. Abgerufen am 27. Juli 2007.</ref>

Foresters and ecologists argue that large controlled burns in Yellowstone prior to the fires would not have greatly reduced the area that was consumed in 1988. Controlled burns would quickly become uncontrolled if they were allowed to burn with the intensity that many tree and plant communities need for proper regeneration.<ref name="Franke1"/><ref name="Schullery3">P. Schullery, D.G. Despain: Prescribed burning in Yellowstone National Park: a doubtful proposition. In: Western Wildlands. 15, Nr. 2, 1989, S. 30–34.</ref> Consequently, natural fires, rather than controlled burns, are the primary maintenance tool of the park. Since the late 1970s, some 300 natural fires have been allowed to burn themselves out.<ref name="prescribed"/> In rare circumstances, natural fires are supplemented by controlled burns that are deliberately started to remove dead timber under conditions which allow fire fighters an opportunity to carefully control where and how much wood fuel is consumed.

Greater cooperation between federal and state agencies on a national level has been coordinated through the National Interagency Fire Center. Though primarily a collaborative effort between federal agencies to develop a national level fire policy, the center also aides local and state governments in addressing their fire management issues. Universally accepted priorities include management directives which allow natural fires to burn unhindered under prescribed conditions. As in the 1988 fires, protection of lives and property continue to take precedence in all fire fighting efforts.<ref name="nifc2">Policies - 1995 Fire Policy. In: Policies. National Interagency Fire Center. Abgerufen am 10. August 2007.</ref>

The most important lesson learned is that a number of ecosystems, including the one that contains Yellowstone, are specially adapted to large and intense wildfires. This was widely thought to be the case well before 1988, and the wildfires of that year drove the conclusion home. While large destructive fires are unacceptable in regions with extensive encroachment by communities, they are mandatory in a region such as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, if it is to be maintained in a natural manner.<ref name="Franke1"/>

Was für ein Mist[Quelltext bearbeiten]

Warum finde ich diesen Artikel erst jetzt? Ich schau mal, ob ich mittelfristig was dran machen kann. Kann aber dauern, bis ich Zeit und Lust finde. Literatur habe ich. --h-stt !? 22:51, 2. Aug. 2010 (CEST)

Eventuell, weil der Artikel erst gut einen Monat hier steht. Jiver 12:29, 3. Aug. 2010 (CEST)

Letzter Absatz ist wiedersprüchlich[Quelltext bearbeiten]

"[...] wischen 1972 und 1987 brannte aufgrund dieser Anweisung durch insgesamt 235 dieser „verordneten natürlichen Brände“ eine relativ kleine Fläche von 137 km² nieder. Nur 15 dieser Brände erreichten eine Größe von mehr als 0,4 km². [...] – wenn bei 235 Bränden 137 km² nieder brannten, dann brannten im Durchschnitt 0,58 km² pro Brand nieder, das ist deutlich mehr, als die 0,4 km² der "15 größten Brände" ... irgend etwas stimmt da nicht. --Elmepi (Diskussion) 20:12, 6. Jul. 2017 (CEST)

Das ganze Kapitel hat überhaupt nichts mit dem Thema dieses Artikels zu tun und gehört hier ersatzlos gelöscht. Große Teile könnte man in USFS einarbeiten, denn dort ist Geschichte ja bisher nur eine rudimentäre Institutionengeschichte. Grüße --h-stt !? 14:26, 7. Jul. 2017 (CEST)