Camille Stevens-Rumann was a student of raging wildfires well before she began formally researching their impact on the environment, according to CBC News. 

The Colorado-based forestry professor fought wildfires that swept through the region while pursuing an undergraduate degree, observing how they influenced the landscape.

“After getting tired of just wielding a chainsaw, I moved back to getting degrees in fire ecology,” Stevens-Rumann, 33, told CBC News. “I got really interested in thinking about how we’re managing our landscapes, and how [the] decisions we’re making even on the fire line are influencing how those ecosystems are recovering after.”

Her research has taken her from the charred forests of America’s Rocky Mountain ranges all the way to the Pacific Northwest, just south of the British Columbia border.

What she’s found: certain tree species are having a tough time growing back in areas that have been affected by wildfires due to warming temperatures — a discovery that could have major implications for both the forestry sector and long-term climate change targets.

Among Stevens-Rumann,’s work was a 2017 study of nearly 1,500 sites charred by 52 wildfires in the U.S. Rocky Mountains. Her research found that lower elevation trees had a tough time naturally regenerating in areas that burned between 2000 and 2015 compared with sites affected between 1985 and 1999, largely due to drier weather conditions.

More recently, a 2019 study written by her colleague Kerry Kemp found that both Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine seedlings in the Idaho’s Rocky Mountains — just south of British Columbia — were also struggling in low-lying burned areas due to warmer temperatures, leading to lower tree densities.

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