Got a Mask? It’s Still Wildfire Season

Janice_Kaspersen_Erosion_Control-Blog

Large parts of the Southeast are on fire this week, with tens of thousands of acres affected by wildfires. Even many of those who aren’t forced to evacuate are still struggling with the effects of poor air quality—so much so that officials in some areas are recommending people wear special masks to protect them from the smoke particles. The particles are especially dangerous for people with respiratory problems, but ongoing exposure can be dangerous for others as well.

And ongoing exposure is what many of these areas have. The largest fire, in the Cohutta Wilderness area of northern Georgia, has burned more than 13,000 acres. Believed to have been caused by a lightning strike, it’s been going strong since the middle of last month and is still only about 20% contained. In North Carolina, 20 different fires have burned more than 23,000 acres in total. Officials in Macon County, NC, which in the western part of the state, were distributing masks for people to wear if they had to be outdoors, particularly if they needed to engage in any sort of strenuous activity. The masks are not just ordinary surgical masks, but rather N95-rated ones that are supposed to block 95% of particles as small as 0.3 microns—the same type of device people wear when they’re trying to prevent the spread of airborne illness.

As troubling as the immediate effects of the fires are, counties in the Southeast and elsewhere will also be dealing with the aftereffects for months to come. Wildfires strike many parts of the country each year, particularly those experiencing drought. Some are caused by lightning and some by careless campers, and sometimes the cause is unknown; too often—as seems to be the case with some in the Southeast—they’re deliberately set.

It’s critical to quickly stabilize areas, especially hilly areas that have lost vegetation and thus are prone to erosion. What methods to use—physical barriers, mulch alone, mulch plus seed—to stop soil loss and get plants reestablished, without the risk of introducing invasive species, is the subject of much research. You can see two recent articles from Erosion Control on the subject, one from the June 2016 issue here and from the November/December 2015 issue here.

StormCon 2017 Call for Papers Is Open

StormCon, the only North American event dedicated exclusively to stormwater and surface-water professionals, is seeking abstracts for presentation at StormCon 2017, which will take place in Seattle on August 27–31, 2017. The deadline for submitting abstracts is Wednesday, December 7, 2016.

We are accepting abstracts in six conference tracks: BMP Case Studies, Green Infrastructure, Stormwater Program Management, Water-Quality Monitoring, Industrial Stormwater Management, and Advanced Research Topics. For descriptions of the tracks and more information about submitting an abstract, please visit www.StormCon.com.  

Upcoming Webinars From Forester U

The “Sediment and Erosion Control for Roadway Projects” Master Class series takes place November 9–December 16. Jerald S. Fifield and Tina R. Evans host this advanced, comprehensive, nine-part master class and workshop series exploring the ins and outs of effective sediment and erosion control plan design and review for roadway projects. You can see sessions you’ve missed as on-demand webcasts.

Click here for more information and to register. EC_bug_web

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