09/28/2012

Fires and Invasive Grass Threaten American West

Grass fire in East Washington. Image courtesy of Gary A. Monroe and USDA-NRCS Photo Gallery
Grass fire in East Washington. Image courtesy of Gary A. Monroe and USDA-NRCS Photo Gallery

Cheatgrass, an invasive weed, is choking out native sagebrush in the Great Basin—and setting the stage for hotter, more catastrophic fires there. Jen Pierce, an expert on ancient fires, and Mike Pellant, of the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, talk about how fires are reshaping landscapes in the American West.

In the video: Post-fire debris flow in Cochiti Canyon, New Mexico. Video courtesy of NMStevePearce.

In an interview with Science Friday, fire expert Jen Pierce said “fire-related debris flows are these slurries of rocks and soil and ash and charcoal, which are produced following large stand-replacing fires.”

Segment Guests

Jen Pierce

Jen Pierce is an associate professor of geoscience at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.

Mike Pellant

Mike Pellant is a coordinator for the Great Basin Restoration Initiative at the Bureau of Land Management in Boise, Idaho.

Tye Morgan

Tye Morgan is a biogeochemist, homebrewer, and owner of Bromus Tech in Reno, Nevada.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata is Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.