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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.

Missed the webinar? Watch it HERE!

Green on Black: A Fire History of the Pacific Northwest with Stephen Pyne

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Green on Black: A Fire History of the Pacific Northwest

Webinar from Northwest Fire Science Consortium

Stephen Pyne, emeritus professor at Arizona State University, and the author of numerous books on fire, most recently Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America and To the Last Smoke, a 9-book series that surveys the American fire scene by region presents "Green on Black: A Fire History of the Pacific Northwest." Watch the video on our YouTube channel.

Collaborations and capacities to transform fire management

Authored by C.A. Schultz; Published 2019

Wildfires bring stark attention to interactions among climate change, fire, forests, and livelihoods, prompting urgent calls for change from policy-makers and the public. Management options vary, but in many fire-adapted forests, the message from the scientific community is clear: Adapt to living with fire, reduce fuels and homes in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), and strategically restore fire to ecosystems (14). Yet, changes to fire management outcomes have been elusive. For example, across the primarily public forestlands of the U.S. West, prescribed fires (intentionally lighted fires) constitute a small, inadequate fraction of forest treatments (5), and fire managers rapidly contain over 95% of ignitions (2). Meanwhile, the WUI is the fastest growing U.S. land-use type (6). Substantial land-use changes that remove people and infrastructure from fire-prone areas are unlikely, making forest management a critical piece of the puzzle. To inform the global challenge of living with fire, we discuss promising developments in U.S. federal fire management that rely on collaborative governance, which is essential for grappling with complex environmental management challenges to leverage diverse capacities, work across jurisdictions, and support collective action to plan for the long term in the face of pressures to focus on short-term risks and objectives....

Making the Transition from Science Delivery to Knowledge Coproduction in Boundary Spanning: A Case Study of the Alaska Fire Science Consortium

Authored by M.M. Colavito; Published 2019

Boundary organizations facilitate two-way, sustained interaction and communication between research and practitioner spheres, deliver existing science, and develop new, actionable scientific information to address emerging social–ecological questions applicable to decision-making. There is an increasing emphasis on the role of boundary organizations in facilitating knowledge coproduction, which is collaborative research with end users to develop actionable scientific information for decision-making. However, a deeper understanding of how boundary organizations and knowledge coproduction work in practice is needed. This paper examines the Alaska Fire Science Consortium (AFSC), a boundary organization focused on fire science and management in Alaska that is working to address climate impacts on wildfire. A case study approach was used to assess AFSC activities over time. AFSC’s boundary spanning involves a continuum of outputs and activities, but their overall trajectory has involved a deliberate transition from an emphasis on science delivery to knowledge coproduction. Key factors that facilitated this transition included a receptive and engaged audience, built-in evaluation and learning, subject matter expertise and complementarity, and embeddedness in the target audience communities. Recommendations for boundary organizations wishing to develop knowledge coproduction capacity include knowing your audience, employing trusted experts in boundary spanning, and engaging in frequent self-evaluation to inform change over time.

A System Dynamics Model Examining Alternative Wildfire Response Policies

Authored by M.P. Thompson; Published 2019

In this paper, we develop a systems dynamics model of a coupled human and natural fire-prone system to evaluate changes in wildfire response policy. A primary motivation is exploring the implications of expanding the pace and scale of using wildfires as a forest restoration tool. We implement a model of a forested system composed of multiple successional classes, each with different structural characteristics and propensities for burning at high severity. We then simulate a range of alternative wildfire response policies, which are defined as the combination of a target burn rate (or inversely, the mean fire return interval) and a predefined transition period to reach the target return interval. We quantify time paths of forest successional stage distributions, burn severity, and ecological departure, and use departure thresholds to calculate how long it would take various policies to restore forest conditions. Furthermore, we explore policy resistance where excessive rates of high burn severity in the policy transition period lead to a reversion to fire exclusion policies. Establishing higher burn rate targets shifted vegetation structural and successional classes towards reference conditions and suggests that it may be possible to expand the application of wildfires as a restoration tool. The results also suggest that managers may be best served by adopting strategies that define aggressive burn rate targets but by implementing policy changes slowly over time.