Resources for Focus on Forests Activity 5 – The Nature of Fire

Students will learn about the role of fire in forest ecosystems, will examine issues of fire in the wildland-urban interface, and will conduct a wildfire safety assessment in their community.

This is one of 9 activities that can be found in PLT’s Exploring Environmental Issues: Focus on Forests moduleTo get the activity, attend a training and receive PLT’s Focus on Forests secondary module. Below are some supporting resources for this activity. 


Download the copyright-free student pages that are included with this activity:

Case Study: Fire and the Gopher Tortoise (PDF)

Case Study: Yellowstone National Park (PDF)

Fire Ecology (PDF)

Forest Fires California in Flames (PDF)

Wildfire Safety Checklist (PDF)


The following tools and resources may be used to enhance the activity.

  • “Meet a Forester” webinar

    Conservation and Youth Education Specialist and Colorado PLT Coordinator, Danielle Ardrey, and forester/firefighter, Kelsey Lesniak, with the Colorado Forest Service co-hosted a “Meet a Forester” webinar for Girl Scouts of Colorado. More than 30 Girl Scouts from across Colorado participated in this webinar on May 27, 2020 to learn about their jobs and the science of trees, healthy forests, the role of fire on a forested ecosystem, and forest management. Listen to the recording.  

  • Skype a Scientist

    The Skype a Scientist program matches more than 500 scientists with classrooms worldwide. Available for any level along the K-12 spectrum, a typical Q&A-style video chat lasts between 30 to 60 minutes and covers topics in the scientist’s area of expertise and what it’s like to be a scientist. Follow the link to browse scientists and sign up!

  • Forest Restoration Following Wildfire

    Learn about the Tree and Forest restoration process after a wildfire with this comprehensive resource from Montana State University  (MSU) Extension Forestry. In addition, MSU Extension has compiled multiple other resources that help students understand implications of wildfires. Students can read a about a 13-Year Case Study of Fire in the Northern Rockies, use a photo guide to assess wildfire severity, or learn how to develop a fire hazard reduction plan.

  • Unlock the Secrets in the Soil

    Check out the infographic from the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service! These infographics colorfully illustrate soil health: what soil is made of, what’s underneath, and what it does. 

  • Case Study: Protecting Denver’s Drinking Water

    Read a case study about how the 2002 wildfires near Denver were treated to help protect the water quality of Denver’s reservoirs.

  • Fire Safety Website

    Fire safety resources are available at Teacher resources include a Jeopardy-style game on basic fire safety practices, fact sheets, family take-home activities, and links to additional fire safety resources and organizations. Student resources consist of online games and puzzles that teach fire safety rules.

  • WildLab Bird

    A free app that can be downloaded onto any Apple device (try iBird Lite for Android). Use WildLab Bird to learn the basics of bird identification. This application uses audio, photographs, maps, and the process of elimination to help identify over 200 bird species. Sightings can also be entered into a national bird watching database for comparison. 

  • EnviroAtlas

    EPA’s new EnviroAtlas tool is designed to help communities and researchers make informed planning and policy decisions related to the environment and ecosystems. EnviroAtlas provides datasets and interactive tools to allow users to explore the many benefits people receive from nature, often referred to as ecosystem services. EnviroAtlas includes over 300 data layers, letting users analyze how decisions affect ecosystems and their ability to provide goods and services. Key components include: