Montana Man Shaped Wildfire Behavior Research

September 21, 2011

After the 1910 wildfires charred 3 million acres across Idaho, eastern Washington and Montana, the U.S. Forest Service hired its first full-time wildfire researcher.

For nearly three decades Harry Gisborn sought to understand how weather and topography affected the spread of wildfires, doing most of his fieldwork on 6,400 acres of forest near Priest River, Idaho.

Some of his wildfire prediction models are still in use today, and The Spokesman-Review reports that his contribution to fire science will be remembered next month when the Priest River Experimental Forest celebrates its 100th birthday with tours, lectures and an open house.

Bob Denner, the forester in charge of the Priest River Experimental Forest, says the timbered acreage is the birthplace of fire science.

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