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The Northwest Fire Science Consortium works to accelerate the awareness, understanding, and adoption of wildland fire science. We connect managers, practitioners, scientists, and local communities and collaboratives working on fire issues on forest and range lands in Washington and Oregon.

Learn more about NWFSC...

JFSP Regions


NWFSC is one of
fifteen regional exchanges
sponsored by the Joint Fire Science Program.

Hot Topics

International Conference on Forest Fires and WUI Fires

Following the first Forest Fire Conference focused on WUI fires in 2013, the second edition of the conference on fire risk assessment, modeling, mapping, and management in wildland and WUI will take place in Aix-en-Provence, France. For more information, visit the event webpage.

Important dates:

Call for abstracts: July 2015

Early Bird Registration: November 2015

Long-term effects of wildfire on greater sage-grouse - integrating population and ecosystem concepts for management in the Great Basin

Authored by P.S. Coates; Published 2015

Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereinafter, sage-grouse) are a sagebrush obligate species that has declined concomitantly with the loss and fragmentation of sagebrush ecosystems across most of its geographical range. The species currently is listed as a candidate for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Increasing wildfire frequency and changing climate frequently are identified as two environmental drivers that contribute to the decline of sage-grouse populations, yet few studies have rigorously quantified their effects on sage-grouse populations across broad spatial scales and long time periods. To help inform a threat assessment within the Great Basin for listing sage-grouse in 2015 under the ESA, we conducted an extensive analysis of wildfire and climatic effects on sage-grouse population growth derived from 30 years of lek-count data collected across the hydrographic Great Basin of Western North America. Annual (1984–2013) patterns of wildfire were derived from an extensive dataset of remotely sensed 30-meter imagery and precipitation derived from locally downscaled spatially explicit data. In the sagebrush ecosystem, underlying soil conditions also contribute strongly to variation in resilience to disturbance and resistance to plant community changes (R&R). Thus, we developed predictions from models of post-wildfire recovery and chronic effects of wildfire based on three spatially explicit R&R classes derived from soil moisture and temperature regimes. We found evidence of an interaction between the effects of wildfire (chronically affected burned area within 5 kilometers of a lek) and climatic conditions (spring through fall precipitation) after accounting for a consistent density-dependent effect. Specifically, burned areas near leks nullifies population growth that normally follows years with relatively high precipitation. In models, this effect results in long-term population declines for sage-grouse despite cyclic periods of high precipitation. Based on 30-year projections of burn and recovery rates, our population model predicted steady and substantial long-term declines in population size across the Great Basin. Further, example management scenarios that may help offset adverse wildfire effects are provided by models of varying levels of fire suppression and post-wildfire restoration that focus on areas especially important to sage-grouse populations. These models illustrate how sage-grouse population persistence likely will be compromised as sagebrush ecosystems and sage-grouse habitat are degraded by wildfire, especially in a warmer and drier climate, and by invasion of annual grasses that can increase wildfire frequency and size in the Great Basin.

Mycorrhizae and fire

oin us on October 6 at 12:00 PM(CST) for a webinar entitled "What's going on in glade soil: effects of edge and fire on mycorrhizae," presented by Alice Tipton, Ph.D. Candidate in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Join the webinar

Strengthening syntheses on fire: increasing their usefulness for managers

Authored by J.Kapler Smith; Published 2015

A synthesis for fire managers summarizes and interprets a body of information, presents its meaning in an objective, unbiased way, and describes its implications for decisionmakers. Following are suggestions for ways to strengthen syntheses on fire and on other natural resource issues: Include managers, scientists, and science delivery specialists in planning, developing, and delivering syntheses; If a synthesis has unique regional components, include someone from each region in the planning team and consider these needs in writing and packaging; Use managers as authors, co-authors, or reviewers to ensure management implications are fully developed and clearly explained; Use existing communication networks within the management community for marketing and delivery.Include syntheses in education and professional development.Improve use of technology to provide syntheses, research and monitoring results, and other information so managers can easily find the information and apply it to resource management decisions.

Pile Burning Effects on Soil Water Repellency, Infiltration, and Downslope Water Chemistry in the Lake Tahoe Basin, USA

Authored by K.R. Hubbert; Published 2015

Thinning of conifers followed by pile burning has become a popular treatment to reduce fuel loads in the Lake Tahoe Basin, USA.  However, concern has been voiced about burning within or near riparian areas because of the potential effect on nutrient release and, ultimately, lake water quality.  Our objective was to quantify the effects of pile burning on soil physical and chemical properties and resulting near-stream surface and subsurface water chemistry.  Twenty-seven hand-built piles of three contrasting fuelbed types (large wood, mixed-diameter slash, small-diameter slash) were burned.  Burn sites were located throughout the basin and included both granitic and volcanic parent materials as well as glacial outwash.  We suspected that post-fire changes in soil physical and chemical properties would ensue as maximum soil surface temperatures averaged 400 ℃ for all pile types and exceeded 200 ℃ for >30 h beneath large-wood piles.  Post-fire soil water repellency was greatest for large-wood piles, yet increased for all pile types when soil moisture content fell below a threshold of 7 % to 10 % during the dry summer season.  Soil bulk density increased moderately whereas water infiltration rates decreased more than fourfold after burning of large-wood piles and mixed-slash piles.  Surface runoff and subsurface flow concentrations of nitrate, phosphate, and sulfate were measured downslope from the piles at 6 mo and 18 mo after burning.  Mean NO3, ortho-PO4, and SO4 concentrations were low (<10 mg L-1) at both sampling dates and typically declined downslope from the pile edge.  The results showed that pile burning-regardless of fuel composition-had a limited effect on downslope water quality despite associated changes in soil physicochemical properties.

Society for Ecological Restoration Regional Conference

The 2016 SERNW Regional Conference on ecological restoration will bring together scientists, restoration professionals, and government agencies involved in the practice and science of ecological restoration and management in the Cascadia Bioregion. The conference will highlight the following topics:

  • Monitoring of ecological restoration
  • Restoring soil processes, structure, and function
  • Aquatic restoration and monitoring
  • Monitoring the Northwest Forest Plan
  • Climate change implications
  • Monitoring techniques
  • Ecosystem services
  • Adaptive management

For more information, visit the conference website.

Modeling spatial and temporal dynamics of wind flow and potential fire behavior following a mountain pine beetle outbreak in a lodgepole pine forest

Authored by C.M. Hoffman; Published 2015

Patches of live, dead, and dying trees resulting from bark beetle-caused mortality alter spatial and temporal variability in the canopy and surface fuel complex through changes in the foliar moisture content of attacked trees and through the redistribution of canopy fuels. The resulting heterogeneous fuels complexes alter within-canopy wind flow, wind fluctuations, and rate of fire spread. However, there is currently little information about the potential influence of different rates and patterns of mortality on wind flow and fire behavior following bark beetle outbreaks. In this study, we contrasted within-canopy wind flow and fire rate-of-spread (ROS) at two different ambient wind speeds using FIRETEC for two differing bark beetle attack trajectories for a lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) forest. These two attack trajectories represent different realizations of a bark beetle outbreak and result in different amounts and patterns of mortality through time. Our simulations suggested that the mean within-canopy wind velocities increased through time following the progression of mortality. In addition, we found that for a given level of mortality, a bark beetle outbreak that resulted in a higher degree of aggregation of canopy fuels had greater mean within-canopy wind velocities due to the channeling of wind flow. These findings suggest that bark beetle mortality can influence the mean within-canopy wind flow in two ways: first, by reducing the amount of vegetation present in the canopy acting as a source of drag; and second, by altering spatial patterns of vegetation that can lead to channeling of wind flow. Changes in the fire rate-of-spread were positively related to the level and continuity of bark beetle mortality. Peak rates of spread were between 1.2 and 2.7 times greater than the pre-outbreak scenario and coincided with a high level of mortality and minimal loss of canopy fuels. Following the loss of canopy fuels the rate of fire spread declined to levels below the initial phases of the outbreak in low wind speed cases but remained above pre-outbreak levels in high wind speed cases. These findings suggest that the rate and pattern of mortality arising from a bark beetle outbreak exerts significant influence on the magnitude and timing of alterations to the within-canopy wind flow and rate of fire spread. Our findings help clarify existing knowledge gaps related to the effect of bark beetle outbreaks on fire behavior and could explain potential differences in the reported effects of bark beetle outbreaks on fire behavior through time.

Aerial Fire Fighting International

The 13th Aerial Firefighting International conference has been officially announced by Tangent Link and will take place during March 2016, returning to its recent US home-base of Sacramento in California. 

Tangent Link has a long-standing commitment to the international aerial firefighting community in the way it has continually brought together governing bodies, institutions and associations, as well as operators and those who are tasked with overcoming wildfires.

Over the two days of conference in March 2016, delegates will hear from several invited US Government organisations and international aerial firefighting specialists. The session will include presentations on the following issues: civil and military firefighting operations, both nationally and globally; an examination of the latest developments in night vision techniques and the increasing use of unmanned systems; together with an examine of future technologies.

For more information, visit the conference website.

Local Ecological Knowledge and Fire Management: What Does the Public Understand?

As fire management agencies seek to implement more flexible fire management strategies, local understanding and support for these strategies become increasingly important. One issue associated with implementing more flexible fire management strategies is educating local populations about fire management and identifying what local populations know or do not know related to fire management. This study used survey data from three 2010 wildland fires to understand how ecological knowledge and education level affected fire management perception and understanding. Results indicated that increased accuracy in identifying ecological conditions was associated with higher proficiencies in the identification of fire management strategies used for wildfires. Education levels were not significantly related to public perception of fire management but were related to significant differences in accurately identifying ecological conditions. Results suggest that education may play a mediating role in understanding complex wildfire issues but is not associated with a better understanding of fire management. Click here to register now!


Society of American Foresters 2015 National Convention

The 2015 SAF National Convention in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, will highlight contemporary forest resource management issues in the second decade of the 21st century and the trends, influences, and technologies that are facilitating the profession’s progress toward the future.

Plenary sessions will provide forward-thinking ideas and address what we need to know about trends in science, society, technology, and education to remain relevant and effective as we continue to maintain credibility, effect continuous improvement, and strengthen communities.

Scientific and Technical session presentations and posters are invited on the themes of Recreating Forestry through Science, Recreating Forestry through Society, Recreating Forestry through Technology, and Recreating Forestry through Education and Outreach, as well as on the topics of:

• Recreation • Forest Ecology • Social Sciences • International Forestry • Urban & Community Forestry • Consulting Forestry • Boots on the Ground Forestry • Silviculture • Entomology & Pathology • Soils & Hydrology • Utilization & Engineering • Economics • History • Policy • Fire • Geospatial Technologies • Wildlife Management • Inventory & Biometrics

For more information, visit the conference website.

NWFSC Research Brief #6: Restoring the West: Forest Restoration Needs in Oregon and Washington

Published 2015

In this study, researchers investigated the extent of forest restoration needed to move present day forests towards
a NRV across fire-adapted landscapes in eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and southwestern Oregon. They assessed
forest vegetation restoration needs for over 28 million acres of forest based on the distribution of different forest types (e.g.,
Dry Mixed Conifer vs. Moist Mixed Conifer) and the current relative abundance of structural classes (see below) compared
to NRV reference conditions. Using this approach, researchers determined which structural classes were overrepresented
and underrepresented in each landscape unit. They then evaluated which of several different treatment or restoration categories
(‘Disturbance Only’, ‘Disturbance then Succession’, and ‘Succession Only’) could transition acres to structural classes
that would restore a distribution of classes to within the NRV reference conditions.

Reform forest fire management

Authored by M.P. North; Published 2015

Globally, wildfire size, severity, and frequency have been increasing, as have related fatalities and taxpayer-funded firefighting costs (1). In most accessible forests, wildfire response prioritizes suppression because fires are easier and cheaper to contain when small (2). In the United States, for example, 98% of wildfires are suppressed before reaching 120 ha in size (3). But the 2% of wildfires that escape containment often burn under extreme weather conditions in fuel-loaded forests and account for 97% of fire-fighting costs and total area burned (3). Changing climate and decades of fuel accumulation make efforts to suppress every fire dangerous, expensive, and ill advised (4). These trends are attracting congressional scrutiny for a new approach to wildfire management (5). The recent release of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (NCWFMS) (6) and the U.S. Forest Service's (USFS's) current effort to revise national forest (NF) plans provide openings to incentivize change. Although we largely focus on the USFS, which incurs 70% of national firefighting costs (7), similar wildfire policies and needed management reforms are relevant throughout the United States and fire-prone areas worldwide.

Development and application of a probabilistic method for wildfire suppression cost modeling

Authored by M.P. Thompson; Published 2015

Wildfire activity and escalating suppression costs continue to threaten the financial health of federal land management agencies. In order to minimize and effectively manage the cost of financial risk, agencies need the ability to quantify that risk. A fundamental aim of this research effort, therefore, is to develop a process for generating risk-based metrics for annual suppression costs. Our modeling process borrows from actuarial science and the process of assigning insurance premiums based on distributions for the frequency and magnitude of claims, generating parameterized probability distributions for fire occurrence and fire cost. A compound model of annual suppression costs is built from the coupling of a wildfire simulation model and a suppression cost model. We present cost modeling results for a set of high cost National Forests, with results indicating variation in expected costs due to variation in factors driving financial risk. We describe how our probabilistic cost models can be used for a variety of applications, in the process furthering the Forest Service's movement towards increased adoption of risk management principles for wildfire management. We review potential strengths and limitations of the cost modeling process, and conclude by discussing policy implications and research needs.

Recent mountain pine beetle outbreaks, wildfire severity, and postfire tree regeneration in the US Northern Rockies

Authored by B.J. Harvey; Published 2014

Widespread tree mortality caused by outbreaks of native bark beetles (Circulionidae: Scolytinae) in recent decades has raised concern among scientists and forest managers about whether beetle outbreaks fuel more ecologically severe forest fires and impair postfire resilience. To investigate this question, we collected extensive field data following multiple fires that burned subalpine forests in 2011 throughout the Northern Rocky Mountains across a spectrum of prefire beetle outbreak severity, primarily from mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae). We found that recent (2001–2010) beetle outbreak severity was unrelated to most field measures of subsequent fire severity, which was instead driven primarily by extreme burning conditions (weather) and topography. In the red stage (0–2 y following beetle outbreak), fire severity was largely unaffected by prefire outbreak severity with few effects detected only under extreme burning conditions. In the gray stage (3–10 y following beetle outbreak), fire severity was largely unaffected by prefire outbreak severity under moderate conditions, but several measures related to surface fire severity increased with outbreak severity under extreme conditions. Initial postfire tree regeneration of the primary beetle host tree [lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia)] was not directly affected by prefire outbreak severity but was instead driven by the presence of a canopy seedbank and by fire severity. Recent beetle outbreaks in subalpine forests affected few measures of wildfire severity and did not hinder the ability of lodgepole pine forests to regenerate after fire, suggesting that resilience in subalpine forests is not necessarily impaired by recent mountain pine beetle outbreaks.

Operational wildfire suppression modelling: a review evaluating development, state of the art and future directions

Authored by T.J. Duff; K.G. Tolhurst; Published 2015

Wildfires are an inherent part of the landscape in many parts of the world; however, they often impose substantial economic burdens on human populations where they occur, both in terms of impacts and of management costs. As wildfires burn towards human assets, a universal response has been to deploy fire suppression resources (crews, vehicles and aircraft) to extinguish them, and limit their spread or impacts. The determination of the appropriate levels of investment, resource allocation and suppression tactics is a challenge for managers. As suppression expenses account for a substantial proportion of the cost of fires, and escaped fires account for a large portion of impacts, fire suppression models have been developed to better inform decision-makers. We undertake a review of the literature pertaining to the development of operational models that emulate fire suppression as part of decision support systems. We provide a summary of the development of modelling approaches, discuss strengths and limitations and provide perspectives on the direction of future research.

Earth, Wind, Water and Fire: An Elemental Approach to Fire Management

Join us Oct 21-22 in South Lake Tahoe for two days of presentations, discussions, and networking. Our keynote Speaker will be Dr. Peter Weisberg, University of Nevada, Reno.

The California-Nevada-Hawaii Forest Fire Council promotes professional Wildland Fire Management practices, protects lives and property, and enhances natural resource values in California, Nevada, Hawaii, and our Pacific Partners.

For a list of speakers and topics please see the draft agenda here >

Conference Cost is $25 for both day if you pre-register. Day-of registration will be $40 on-site.

Registration, lodging, and more information here >

6th International Fire Ecology & Management Congress

Conference Event from Association for Fire Ecology

The Association for Fire Ecology (AFE) is pleased to announce the 6th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress to be held in San Antonio, Texas, USA.  Since 2000, AFE has hosted a Fire Congress every three years. These events are the largest, most comprehensive meetings on the research and management of wildland fire that are held anywhere in the world.  They provide unparalleled exposure to the complexity, breadth, and depth of the field of wildland fire.  Providing a respect­ful, inclusive forum for a diverse range of topics and opinions is one of the founding principles that has been part of the success of the Fire Congress series.  We hope you will join us to share with, learn from, and be inspired by fellow attendees who will gather from across the globe.

Call for special sessions & more http://ow.ly/KgH1t

Limitations and utilisation of Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity products for assessing wildfire severity in the USA

Authored by C.A. Kolden; Published 2015

The Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity project is a comprehensive fire atlas for the United States that includes perimeters and severity data for all fires greater than a particular size (~400 ha in the western US, and ~200 ha in the eastern US). Although the database was derived for management purposes, the scientific community has expressed interest in its research capacity. As with any derived data, it is critical to understand inherent limitations to maximise the utility of the dataset without compromising the inferences. The classified severity product in particular is of limited use to research due to a lack of both consistency in developing class thresholds and empirical relationships with ecological metrics. Here we review the products available and their development process, and characterise and quantify the limitations of the classified burn severity data product based on the use of highly variable and subjective classification thresholds. We suggest a framework for overcoming these limitations by developing a more robust classified product that will support ecological management and applications. This framework utilises field data to develop consistent, ecologically based thresholds that incorporate existing ecoregion classifications from LANDFIRE or other fire management frameworks already widely integrated into planning efforts.

Video: Fire Science, Adaptive Management: Landscape restoration at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge

Webinar from Northwest Fire Science Consortium and Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge

Turnbull Wildlife Refuge actively uses a wide variety of management strategies to achieve their goals.

Published October 2, 2015

Enhancing adaptive capacity for restoring fire-dependent ecosystems: the Fire Learning Network’s Prescribed Fire Training Exchanges

Authored by A.G. Spencer; Published 2015

Prescribed fire is a critical tool for promoting restoration and increasing resilience in fire-adapted ecosystems, but there are barriers to its use, including a shortage of personnel with adequate ecological knowledge and operational expertise to implement prescribed fire across multijurisdictional landscapes. In the United States, recognized needs for both professional development and increased use of fire are not being met, often because of institutional limitations. The Fire Learning Network has been characterized as a multiscalar, collaborative network that works to enhance the adaptive capacity of fire management institutions, and this network developed the Prescribed Fire Training Exchanges (TREXs) to address persistent challenges in increasing the capacity for prescribed fire implementation. Our research was designed to investigate where fire professionals face professional barriers, how the TREX addresses these, and in what ways the TREX may be contributing to the adaptive capacity of fire management institutions. We evaluated the training model using surveys, interviews, focus groups, and participant observation. We found that, although the training events cannot overcome all institutional barriers, they incorporate the key components of professional development in fire; foster collaboration, learning, and network building; and provide flexible opportunities with an emphasis on local context to train a variety of professionals with disparate needs. The strategy also offers an avenue for overcoming barriers faced by contingent and nonfederal fire professionals in attaining training and operational experience, thereby increasing the variety of actors and resources involved in fire management. Although it is an incremental step, the TREX is contributing to the adaptive capacity of institutions in social-ecological systems in which fire is a critical ecological process.

Management for Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak Suppression: Does Relevant Science Support Current Policy?

Authored by D.L. Six; Published 2014

While the use of timber harvests is generally accepted as an effective approach to controlling bark beetles during outbreaks, in reality there has been a dearth of monitoring to assess outcomes, and failures are often not reported. Additionally, few studies have focused on how these treatments affect forest structure and function over the long term, or our forests’ ability to adapt to climate change. Despite this, there is a widespread belief in the policy arena that timber harvesting is an effective and necessary tool to address beetle infestations. That belief has led to numerous proposals for, and enactment of, significant changes in federal environmental laws to encourage more timber harvests for beetle control. In this review, we use mountain pine beetle as an exemplar to critically evaluate the state of science behind the use of timber harvest treatments for bark beetle suppression during outbreaks. It is our hope that this review will stimulate research to fill important gaps and to help guide the development of policy and management firmly based in science, and thus, more likely to aid in forest conservation, reduce financial waste, and bolster public trust in public agency decision-making and practice.

Temperate forest health in an era of emerging megadisturbance

Authored by C.I. Millar; Published 2015

Although disturbances such as fire and native insects can contribute to natural dynamics of forest health, exceptional droughts, directly and in combination with other disturbance factors, are pushing some temperate forests beyond thresholds of sustainability. Interactions from increasing temperatures, drought, native insects and pathogens, and uncharacteristically severe wildfire are resulting in forest mortality beyond the levels of 20th-century experience. Additional anthropogenic stressors, such as atmospheric pollution and invasive species, further weaken trees in some regions. Although continuing climate change will likely drive many areas of temperate forest toward large-scale transformations, management actions can help ease transitions and minimize losses of socially valued ecosystem services.

2015 Rangeland Fall Forum - Fuel-Fire-Future

Fires on sagebrush rangelands are an ever-increasing reality of living in Idaho and the West. Many factors, including invasive plants, drier hotter summers, and human activities, encourage wildfires that threaten both human communities and habitat for native plants and animals. Innovations and coordinated efforts in rangeland fire management are being implemented to combat these threats and mitigate damage.

This year's Rangeland Fall Forum will combine science with local knowledge, featuring panel discussions with scientists, ranchers, conservationists, fire managers and rangeland professionals.

Topics will center on:

  • prevention
  • suppression
  • restoration.

Participants will leave better informed about current research, near-term versus long-term goals, and examples of successful collaborations and lessons learned in Idaho. Visit the event webpage for more information.

Companion Field Tour:

The 71 Grazing Association and the Three Creek Rangeland Fire Protection Association will co-host a field tour the following day, October 23, 2015. This will create a "double feature" of information and ideas on living with and without rangeland fire.

About the University of Idaho Rangeland Center:

Each fall the University of Idaho Rangeland Center organizes the Rangeland Fall Forum to present science, experience, and discussions surrounding rangeland management challenges in Idaho.

The forum brings together local knowledge and experts in rangeland science and management, featuring perspectives from individuals within land management agencies, conservation organizations and the ranching community. Ideally suited to a wide audience, the forum promotes dialogue and knowledge sharing for sustainable management of western rangelands into the future.


Re-envisioning community-wildfire relations in the U.S. West as adaptive governance

Authored by J.B. Abrams; Published 2015

Prompted by a series of increasingly destructive, expensive, and highly visible wildfire crises in human communities across the globe, a robust body of scholarship has emerged to theorize, conceptualize, and measure community-level resilience to wildfires. To date, however, insufficient consideration has been given to wildfire resilience as a process of adaptive governance mediated by institutions at multiple scales. Here we explore the possibilities for addressing this gap through an analysis of wildfire resilience among wildland-urban interface communities in the western region of the United States. We re-engage important but overlooked components of social-ecological system resilience by situating rural communities within their state- to national-level institutional contexts; we then analyze two communities in Nevada and New Mexico in terms of their institutional settings and responses to recent wildfire events. We frame our analysis around the concepts of scale matching, linking within and across scales, and institutional flexibility.

Fire, Fuels, and Streams: The Effects and Effectiveness of Riparian Treatments

Authored by J. McDaniel; Published 2015

Fire is an important disturbance in riparian systems—consuming vegetation; increasing light;
creating snags and debris flows; altering habitat structure; and affecting stream conditions, erosion, and
hydrology. For many years, land managers have worked to keep fire out of riparian systems through the
use of buffers. A number of projects funded by the Joint Fire Science Program are shedding light on
the dynamics of fire in riparian systems. Recent research and field practice have shown that (1) riparian
treatments can be beneficial and are not as risky as previously thought; and (2) riparian treatments
need the “Goldilocks” prescribed fire—not too hot and not too cold—to be beneficial.

NWFSC Fire Facts: What is? Fire Intensity

Authored by N.W.Fire Scien Consortium; Published 2015

 Fire intensity is the amount of energy or heat given off by a forest fire at a specific point in time. Read more at Fire Facts: What is? Fire Intensity

Community wildfire preparedness: a global state-of-the-knowledge summary of social science research

Authored by S. McCaffrey; Published 2015

This article builds on findings from a synthesis of fire social science research that was published from 2000 to 2010 to understand what has been learned more recently about public response to wildfires. Two notable changes were immediately noted in the fairly substantial number of articles published between 2011 and 2014. First, while over 90% of the articles found in the initial synthesis were US-based studies, roughly half of the articles published since 2010 have been conducted outside the USA, the majority from Australia. Second, while the primary focus of earlier studies was on pre-fire mitigation efforts on both public and private lands, roughly half of the recent articles focused on dynamics during and after a fire. Overall, findings from the current review re-enforce key themes identified in the previous synthesis work and provide a deeper and more nuanced understanding of how certain variables, such as risk perception, may influence public response to wildfires. In addition, several important dynamics emerged across studies: the similarity of findings across countries, increased work across the temporal gradient, the importance of social interactions and of place attachment in shaping response, the need to take local knowledge and context into account, and the importance of financial support. These patterns suggest that while no single outreach approach or policy is likely to be effective everywhere or for everyone, efforts that facilitate development of relationships, within communities and between community members and fire personnel, can contribute to increased preparedness at the individual and community level by facilitating information exchange and helping to build a sense of community.

Prescribed fire and bats

In this Oak Woodlands consortium webinar, Dr. Joy O'Keefe will discuss the potential indirect and direct effects of prescribed fire on bats, with a focus on threatened and endangered forest-dwelling bats, and including how fire may affect different bat species by season.   
Information: http://www.oakfirescience.com/events-webinars-source/2015/10/13/prescribed-fire-and-bats

The Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project 6-year update

SageSTEP scientists have now collected 6 years of post-treatment data on 20 sites throughout the Great Basin, and now have a fairly certain understanding of short-term vegetation response to fire and mechanical treatments on at about half of those sites.

Register here

The 2010 wildland-urban interface of the conterminous United States

Authored by S. Martinuzzi; Published 2015

The wildland-urban interface (WUI) is the area where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland, and it is where wildfires have their greatest impacts on people. Hence the WUI is important for wildfire management. This document and associated maps summarize the extent of the WUI in the conterminous United States in 2010. The maps and summary statistics are designed to inform both national policy and local land management concerning the WUI. The data presented here summarize the 2010 WUI at a national scale and for each of the 48 conterminous States. All products of this assessment—including maps, statistics, and the WUI GIS dataset—are available at http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/data/WUI.

A pdf version of the map included with this publication is available for download (2 MB PDF)

A high resolution version of this publication is available for download (100 MB PDF)

Fire severity and tree regeneration following bark beetle outbreaks: the role of outbreak stage and burning conditions

Authored by B.J. Harvey; Published 2014

The degree to which recent bark beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) outbreaks may influence fire severity and postfire tree regeneration is of heightened interest to resource managers throughout western North America, but empirical data on actual fire effects are lacking. Outcomes may depend on burning conditions (i.e., weather during fire), outbreak severity, or intervals between outbreaks and subsequent fire. We studied recent fires that burned through green-attack/red-stage (outbreaks <3 years before fire) and gray-stage (outbreaks 3–15 years before fire) subalpine forests dominated by lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) in Greater Yellowstone, Wyoming, USA, to determine if fire severity was linked to prefire beetle outbreak severity and whether these two disturbances produced compound ecological effects on postfire tree regeneration. With field data from 143 postfire plots that burned under different conditions, we assessed canopy and surface fire severity, and postfire tree seedling density against prefire outbreak severity.

In the green-attack/red stage, several canopy fire-severity measures increased with prefire outbreak severity under moderate burning conditions. Under extreme conditions, few fire-severity measures were related to prefire outbreak severity, and effect sizes were of marginal biological significance. The percentage of tree stems and basal area killed by fire increased with more green-attack vs. red-stage trees (i.e., the earliest stages of outbreak). In the gray stage, by contrast, most fire-severity measures declined with increasing outbreak severity under moderate conditions, and fire severity was unrelated to outbreak severity under extreme burning conditions. Postfire lodgepole pine seedling regeneration was unrelated to prefire outbreak severity in either post-outbreak stage, but increased with prefire serotiny. Results suggest bark beetle outbreaks can affect fire severity in subalpine forests under moderate burning conditions, but have little effect on fire severity under extreme burning conditions when most large wildfires occur in this system. Thus, beetle outbreak severity was moderately linked to fire severity, but the strength and direction of the linkage depended on both endogenous (outbreak stage) and exogenous (fire weather) factors. Closely timed beetle outbreak and fire did not impart compound effects on tree regeneration, suggesting the presence of a canopy seedbank may enhance resilience to their combined effects.

The economic benefit of localised, short-term, wildfire-potential information

Authored by K. Rollins; Published 2015

Wildfire-potential information products are designed to support decisions for prefire staging of movable wildfire suppression resources across geographic locations. We quantify the economic value of these information products by defining their value as the difference between two cases of expected fire-suppression expenditures: one in which daily information about spatial variation in wildfire-potential is used to move fire suppression resources throughout the season, and the other case in which daily information is not used and fire-suppression resources are staged in their home locations all season. We demonstrate the method by constructing a hypothetical wildland management unit calibrated to represent a region typical in the US West. The method uses estimated suppression costs and probabilities of significant fire, as provided by an information service, to estimate expected suppression costs. We analyse differences in expected suppression costs for a range of risk scenarios. Economic savings occur for the majority of risk scenarios. This approach can be used to evaluate investments in wildfire-potential information services, and for assessing the value of investing in new resources.

Principles of effective USA Federal Fire Management Plants

Authored by M.D. Meyer; Published 2015

Federal fire management plans are essential implementation guides for the management of wildland fire on federal lands.  Recent changes in federal fire policy implementation guidance and fire science information suggest the need for substantial changes in federal fire management plans of the United States.  Federal land management agencies are also undergoing land management planning efforts that will initiate revision of fire management plans across the country.  Using the southern Sierra Nevada as a case study, we briefly describe the underlying framework of fire management plans, assess their consistency with guiding principles based on current science information and federal policy guidance, and provide recommendations for the development of future fire management plans.  Based on our review, we recommend that future fire management plans be: (1) consistent and compatible, (2) collaborative, (3) clear and comprehensive, (4) spatially and temporally scalable, (5) informed by the best available science, and (6) flexible and adaptive.  In addition, we identify and describe several strategic guides or “tools” that can enhance these core principles and benefit future fire management plans in the following areas: planning and prioritization, science integration, climate change adaptation, partnerships, monitoring, education and communication, and applied fire management.  These principles and tools are essential to successfully realize fire management goals and objectives in a rapidly changing world.

Identifying Resilient Terrestrial Landscapes in the Pacific Northwestvvv

Webinar Event from The North Pacific, Great Northern, and Great Basin LCCs, and The Nature Conservancy are offering this science-management webinar for a second time.

Description: As the climate changes, species are moving and shifting ranges to stay within their preferred temperature and moisture conditions. How can land managers plan for the conservation of biodiversity at a site when those species might not be there in 50-100 years? Current conservation approaches often focus on predicting where species will move to in the future. This is a reasonable approach but fraught with uncertainty and dependent on a variety of future-climate models. The Nature Conservancy has developed a different, but complementary approach that aims to identify key areas for conservation based on stable land characteristics that increase diversity and resilience, and will not change in a changing climate. 

The purpose of this project, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, is to identify the most resilient sites in the Northwest that will collectively and individually best sustain native biodiversity even as the changing climate alters current distribution patterns. The central idea is that by mapping key geophysical features and evaluating them for landscape characteristics that buffer against climate change, we can identify the most resilient places in the landscape in order to guide future conservation investments. 

Note: Space is limited to the first 100 people logged in the day of the webinar. If you miss the webinar, a recording will be available on the LCC YouTube Channels.

Register HERE.

Sagebrush Ecosystem Conservation: All Lands, All Hands

Conference Event from Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Great Basin Consortium and Utah State University

Recent unprecedented collaboration among management agencies, scientists, private landowners, industry, and others working to sustain healthy sagebrush ecosystems across all boundaries demonstrates the effectiveness of working together.

The purpose of this conference is to continue sharing the latest information and to plan for the conservation, restoration, and maintenance of resilient sagebrush communities.

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Experimental analysis of fire spread across a two-dimensional ridge under wind conditions

Authored by J.R. Raposo; Published 2015

Results from a laboratory-scale investigation of a fire spreading on the windward face of a triangular-section hill of variable shape with wind perpendicular to the ridgeline are reported. They confirm previous observations that the fire enlarges its lateral spread after reaching the ridgeline, entering the leeward face with a much wider front. Reference fire spread velocities were measured and analysed, putting in evidence the importance of the dynamic effect due to flow velocity and its associated horizontal-axis separation vortex strength without dependence on hill geometry. Similar parameters estimated from three forest fires compared favourably with the laboratory-scale measurements.