OPINION

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Wildland firefighter shares her experience

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Submitted

Lori Barrow, Wildland Firefighter with the Minnesota DNR, shares her experience assisting with wild fire at Itasca State Park.

Arriving on scene and witnessing an active wildfire all around Itasca State Park’s towering red and white pines filled me with respect, awe and adrenalin. Although most folks view wildfire as destructive, it's a natural process that's critical for the health of fire-dependent plant communities such as pine.

However, when there's a wildfire, the safety of my fellow firefighters and the public is always a top priority. On this fire we utilized suppression techniques to steer the fire and reduce the potential for a larger spread. When we came back the next day to ensure the fire was cold, I marveled at how the thick bark on many of the old trees insulated them from the fire’s effects. A burned tree isn’t necessarily a wasted tree. It could provide future nesting sites for birds or homes for wildlife.

Growing up in central Illinois, I didn’t have access to a lot of open land. Only as an adult did I begin to appreciate the access to public lands we have in the United States, and all the benefits and opportunities that go with it. Natural landscapes act as a filter for the water we drink and the air we breathe, provide economic benefits, and are home to animals and plants.

When we don't protect public lands, access and benefits are negatively impacted. That's why it’s important for me to get out there, roll up my sleeves, and give back to the places that give so much to me.

Lori Barrow