Geos. 220 Southwest Fire Outline and Essay
Fall 2013 Due DatesStart the fire management outline on Thursday, November 7.
Turn in fire management outline on Thursday, November 14.
Graded outlines will be returned on Thursday, November 21.
Start the fire management essay on Thursday, November 21.
Turn in fire management essay on Tuesday, December 3, with graded outlines attached.
Essay Assignment for Geosciences 220 Students
The assignment is to write an essay on the topic of forest fire management in the Southwest. For example:
Your essay report should:
- What is the current problem? Give examples.
- Is current fire different from past fire? How is past fire known?
- Of the couple fire management options available, choose one (not both) to recommend.
- Give its advantages.
- Give its disadvantages (nothing is perfect, it seems).
- Make a conclusion.
- Be about 1000 words, or about 3 pages of text (double-spaced text, normal margins).
- Include at least one data graphic (actual data, not just a pretty picture of fire), printed on an extra page of figures and referred to in the text. For this, any image from this web site may be downloaded and inserted into a word document. Then the figure can be refered to in the text in this fashion:Don't even think of simply copying an existing caption for the figure you've chosen.The figure itself must also be given a caption, usually added just below the figure. A caption is like a title, and it may include a bit of description, like this:In spite of fire suppression efforts, total forest area burned in the Southwest has been increasing over the last 20 years (Fig. 1).Figure 1. Total area burned in the Southwest from 1910 to present. Notice the increase in area burned since 1980. From Source (1999) [if source is known].
- Cite an effective mixture of reference material, including science articles and news clippings, and web sites if relevant. The following Babbitt essay is an excellent start and is hereby REQUIRED:
- Babbitt, Bruce. 1995. Return fire to its place in the West. Fire Management Notes 55(4):6-8. This editorial discusses a policy of returning fire as a process of forest ecosystems. (3-page, 482-Kb pdf file, password protected)
- Decide for yourself how many reference sources to cite in your essay, but suffice it to say from experience that a mere three or four references is simply not enough to be effective.
- It is not necessary to read all of the material included in this web presentation. However, reading extensively would allow you to pick and choose for yourself what to cite. Either way, provide a range of cited references and avoid citing any single reference multiple times.
- Important restriction: Notes from lecture in Geos. 220 are not eligible to be cited here.
- Include a separate list of "References Cited," as always. Use whatever format you're used to for listing references, but a point of listing references is that readers of essays should be able to locate references based on details given in the list.
- Reminder: The rule in this class is: No quoting, ever, in this class. This includes no copying text and neglecting to enclose it in quotes. The intent here is not to copy any existing text. All of your essay must be your own writing.
- The structure of your essay MIGHT be like this (with these section headings):
- Introduction (~0.5 page): What is the current nature of wildfire in the Southwest?
- Past Fire Patterns (1 page): Contrast the current nature of wildfire with that of the prehistoric past. How has frequency and intensity of fire changed from pre-settlement period to now? Describe briefly the role of dendrochronology in studies of past fire. This would be a good place to refer to a data graphic.
- Forest Fire Management Strategy (1 page): Assuming a goal of returning wildfire to a more natural role in forests as interpreted from dendrochronological fire history studies, describe one strategy for doing so. Mention both advantages and disadvantages of your chosen strategy.
- Conclusion (~0.5 pages): Conclude something here. Don't just summarize, or rehash, the essay.
- As a citeable example of a community actually doing something about wildland fire, check out the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project.
Data Figure: This comes next on a separate page, complete with your caption. References Cited: Starting on a new page, a list of references cited.
First: Start With a Topic Sentence OutlineWe will start this assignment with an outline. Click here for instructions and an example. Note: Still include a data graphic and a list of references with the outline.
Later: Finish With the Essay Itself
Staple your graded fire outline to the back of your essay 1000 words (about 3 pages) Italicize the topic sentence of each paragraph. Include a list of sources (titles, not just urls) in the back, not part of the 1000 words Include data figure, with caption Click here for an example essay on the topic of the US in the UN.
Yet More Writing Help
Check out this compilation document for yet more suggestions on writing effective essays. It covers such things as:
- arguing (academically, that is)
- empty words and phrases
- referencing (but don't forget: in this course, NO QUOTING, ever)
- listing sources in the back
- topic sentences
- figure captions
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Revised November, 2013