Megafires in the West

Scott Murray

While the changing climate has made the western states hotter and drier than ever before, the catastrophic wildfires of the last 20 years could have been mitigated with better forest management. The US Forest Service has a long history of fire suppression, which has led to a buildup of excess fuelwood on our public lands. Now, when fires do occur, they tend to be larger than they were historically. The smoke from these so-called “megafires” can travel across the country and cause serious health issues. Additionally, in recent years larger numbers of people have been moving to communities in fire-prone areas where homes and other buildings are close to the open, natural spaces where wildfires commonly occur. These areas are known as the wildland-urban interface. I am personally familiar with these types of communities, because my family owns a cabin near Prescott where we spend time in the summer. Wildfires are always a big concern in the arid ponderosa pine forests of Arizona. 

Through my design work I have tried to give viewers a sense of the magnitude of the issue by emphasizing the quantities of acres burned and lives affected. My clock design focuses on the core of the issue which is that fires are getting more destructive due to human activity.  The clock shows the amount of acres burned rapidly increasing since the 1990s. The other facets of the issue are addressed in the additional projects. The book and presentation emphasize the effects of the issue on human lives and what we can do to help