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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.

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

Hot Topics


Tradeoffs between US national forest harvest targets and fuel management to reduce wildfire transmission to the wildland urban interface

Authored by A.A. Ager; Published 2019

US public land management agencies are faced with multiple, often conflicting objectives to meet management targets and produce a wide range of ecosystem services expected from public lands. One example is managing the growing wildfire risk to human and ecological values while meeting programmatic harvest targets for economic outputs mandated in agency budgets. Studies examining strategic management tradeoffs on federal lands and program efficiencies are rare. In this study we used the 79 western US national forests to examine tradeoffs between forest management scenarios targeting wildfire risk to the wildland urban interface (WUI) and those meeting agency convertible volume production targets. We quantified production frontiers to measure how the efficiency of meeting harvest volume targets is affected by prioritizing treatments to areas that transmit fire to the WUI. The results showed strong tradeoffs and scale effects on production frontiers, and more importantly substantial variation among planning areas and national forests. Prioritizing treatments to reduce fire transmission to the WUI resulted in an average harvest volume reduction of about 248 m3 per ha treated. The analysis also identified opportunities where both management objectives can be achieved. This work represents the first large-scale tradeoff analysis for key management goals in forest and fuel management programs on national forests.


Fire deficits have increased drought‐sensitivity in dry conifer forests; fire frequency and tree‐ring carbon isotope evidence from Central Oregon

Authored by S.L. Voelker; Published 2019

A century of fire suppression across the Western US has led to more crowded forests and increased competition for resources. Studies of forest thinning or stand conditions after mortality events have provided indirect evidence for how competition can promote drought stress and predispose forests to severe fire and/or bark beetle outbreaks. Here we demonstrate linkages between fire deficits and increasing drought stress through analyses of annually resolved tree‐ring growth, fire scars, and carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C) across a dry mixed‐conifer forest landscape. Fire deficits across the study area have increased the sensitivity of leaf gas exchange to drought stress over the past >100 years. Since 1910, stand basal area in these forests has more than doubled and fire‐return intervals have increased from 25 to 140 years. Meanwhile, the portion of inter‐annual variation in tree‐ring Δ13C explained by the Palmer Drought Severity Index has more than doubled in ca. 300 to 500‐year‐old Pinus ponderosa as well as in fire‐intolerant, ca. 90 to 190‐year‐old Abies grandis. Drought stress has increased in stands with a basal area of ≥25 m2 ha−1 in 1910, as indicated by negative temporal Δ13C trends, whereas stands with basal area ≤25 m2 ha−1 in 1910, due to frequent or intense wildfire activity in decades beforehand, were initially buffered from increased drought stress and have benefited more from rising ambient carbon dioxide concentrations, [CO2], as demonstrated by positive temporal Δ13C trends. Furthermore, the average Δ13C response across all P. ponderosa since 1830 indicates that photosynthetic assimilation rates and stomatal conductance have been reduced by ~10% and ~20%, respectively, compared to expected trends due to increasing [CO2]. Although disturbance legacies contribute to local‐scale intensity of drought stress, fire deficits have reduced drought resistance of mixed‐conifer forests and made them more susceptible to challenges by pests and pathogens and other disturbances.


2019 Pacific Northwest Forest Collaborative Workshop

Workshop Event from Sustainable Northwest

Save the Date! The 2019 Pacific Northwest Forest Collaborative Workshop will be held April 11-12 in Hood River, Oregon. This annual gathering of forest collaboratives in Oregon and Washington include discussion about innovative projects, updates about state and Federal forest policy, and the newest science related to forest management.

For more information, contact Jenna Knobloch: jknobloch@sustainablenorthwest.org.


Wildfires and Inland Mountain Forests: Is Nonforest Vital to Forest Resilience? - POSTPONED

Do to the government shutdown, we will have to postpone this webinar.

What will you learn?

This presentation introduces a new line of research in our laboratory; one examining the role that nonforest plays in the wildfire resilience of inland montane forests. In past work, we were consistently surprised by the amount of nonforest (grasslands-shrublands-sparse woodlands-bare ground) we encountered in reconstructions of early 20th century forest landscapes. Now, we take a closer look at the provincial abundance and distribution of nonforest and its potential relevance.

Theory and empirical studies confirm that forest landscapes of the historical western US were hierarchically organized, and there were cross-connections between levels. At fine-scales, patches were often composed of clumped and gapped trees, which nested within meso-scale forest successional landscapes, which themselves nested within broad-scale patchworks of nonforest. Here, we take a closer look at those linkages, and changes to them. What was the structure within nonforest patchworks, and what was the nature of the cross-connection with forests? Obtaining a better understanding of these relationships potentially provides two important clues. It can provide a clearer idea of the structure and organization of landscape resilience, and it can foreshadow what we can expect with changes in the regional climate.

Presenter:

Paul Hessburg, Research Landscape Ecologist with the USDA-FS, PNW Research Station

Session Details: Tuesday, January 22 at 11:00 am US/Pacific || Duration: 1.0 hour

Who should participate?

Managers/Practitioners, Scientists/Researchers, Other

Register HERE.

Prepare your computer or mobile device in advance: WebEx instructions

 


Expect the Unexpected: Fire Management Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing Climate

What will you learn?

With increasing fire season duration and complexities in the fire management environment come opportunities to scale up the application of prescribed fire. In this webinar, we will explore the challenges climate change poses for fire managers, as well as the opportunities present in more numerous and longer prescribed burn windows with the increasing availability of fuels to burn

Presenter:

Amanda Stamper, Oregon/Washington Fire Manager, The Nature Conservancy

Session Details: Thursday, January 31 at 1:00 pm US/Pacific || Duration: 1.0 hour

Who should participate?

Managers/Practitioners, Scientists/Researchers, Other

 

Register HERE.

Prepare your computer or mobile device in advance: WebEx instructions


Covering Wildfires: Media Emphasis and Silence after the Carlton and Okanogan Complex Wildfires

Authored by A. Cordner; Published 2018

This article examines salient topics and textual silences in the media coverage of two major wildfires in Washington State. A significant body of research has examined the importance of media coverage in framing disaster events, yet gaps remain in scholarly understanding of wildfire media coverage. In this article, we explore the following questions: How did the print media cover the Carlton Complex and Okanogan Complex fires in Washington State? What topics and locations were generally featured or ignored, and why? How did wildfire media coverage change after firefighter deaths? To answer these questions, we draw on three sources of data: print media coverage, address-specific data of burned homes, and demographic descriptions of impacted towns. We find that media coverage largely overlooked sites of greatest loss, failed to provide a contextualized discussion of firefighter safety, and generally ignored issues of climate change and inequality.