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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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JFSP Regions

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

Hot Topics


Human presence diminishes the importance of climate in driving fire activity across the United States

Authored by A.D. Syphard; Published 2017

Growing human and ecological costs due to increasing wildfire are an urgent concern in policy and management, particularly given projections of worsening fire conditions under climate change. Thus, understanding the relationship between climatic variation and fire activity is a critically important scientific question. Different factors limit fire behavior in different places and times, but most fire-climate analyses are conducted across broad spatial extents that mask geographical variation. This could result in overly broad or inappropriate management and policy decisions that neglect to account for regionally specific or other important factors driving fire activity. We developed statistical models relating seasonal temperature and precipitation variables to historical annual fire activity for 37 different regions across the continental United States and asked whether and how fire-climate relationships vary geographically, and why climate is more important in some regions than in others. Climatic variation played a significant role in explaining annual fire activity in some regions, but the relative importance of seasonal temperature or precipitation, in addition to the overall importance of climate, varied substantially depending on geographical context. Human presence was the primary reason that climate explained less fire activity in some regions than in others. That is, where human presence was more prominent, climate was less important. This means that humans may not only influence fire regimes but their presence can actually override, or swamp out, the effect of climate. Thus, geographical context as well as human influence should be considered alongside climate in national wildfire policy and management.


Spatiotemporal patterns of unburned areas within fire perimeters in the northwestern United States from 1984 to 2014

Authored by A.J.H. Meddens; Published 2018

A warming climate, fire exclusion, and land cover changes are altering the conditions that produced historical fire regimes and facilitating increased recent wildfire activity in the northwestern United States. Understanding the impacts of changing fire regimes on forest recruitment and succession, species distributions, carbon cycling, and ecosystem services is critical, but challenging across broad spatial scales. One important and understudied aspect of fire regimes is the unburned area within fire perimeters; these areas can function as fire refugia across the landscape during and after wildfire by providing habitat and seed sources. With increasing fire activity, there is speculation that fire intensity and combustion completeness are also increasing, which we hypothesized would yield smaller unburned proportions and changes in fire refugia patterns. We sought to determine (1) whether the unburned proportion of wildfires decreased across the northwestern United States from 1984 to 2014 and (2) whether patterns of unburned patches were significantly different across ecoregions, land cover type, and land ownership. We utilized a Landsat-derived geospatial database of unburned islands within 2298 fires across the inland northwestern USA (including eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and Idaho) from 1984 to 2014. We evaluated patterns of the total unburned proportion and spatial patterns of unburned patches of the fires across different ecoregions, land cover types, and land ownership. We found that unburned area proportion exhibited no change over the three decades, suggesting that recent trends in area burned and overall severity have not affected fire refugia, important to post-fire ecosystem recovery. There were ecoregional differences in mean unburned proportion, patch area, and patch density, suggesting influences of vegetation and topography on the formation of unburned area. These foundation findings suggest that complex drivers control unburned island formation, and yield insights to locate potential important fire refugia across the inland northwest.


Oregon's Smoke Seminar

Lecture Event from Oregon Department of Forestry

Welcome to the Oregon Department of Forestry's Smoke Seminar 2018. This seminar will give you the latest updates on where we are at with the Oregon Smoke Management review process and how the rules may be changing. We'll also show you how the Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program works, how to investigate a smoke intrusion, understanding smoke dispersion, and help guide you through the processes for developing collaborative efforts for accomplishing presecribed fire. At the end of the day, small groups will work together to address the biggest smoke management issues and provide feedback to the Smoke Management Advisory Committee for consideration. We hope you will be able to join us in this unique opportunity to network directly with the Smoke Management group, DEQ, Natural Resource Conservation Service, USDA Washington Office, The Nature Conservancy, private, industry, and your fellow Smoke Management and fuels managers from around the state.

For more information and to register, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oregon-smoke-seminar-2018-registration-4176...


Lessons from the Milli Fire

What will you learn?

The 2017 wildfire season impacted many forests and adjacent communities across the Western United States, leaving land managers, public officials and citizens with questions about how to more effectively mitigate wildfire risk and behavior. This webinar describes the Milli Fire of 2017 on the Sisters Ranger District in Central Oregon.  It is intended to be a general overview of the fire and impacts observed.  We will also highlight the role of the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project, a community-based forest collaborative group, in forest restoration on the district and the impact those forest restoration treatments had on fire behavior.

Specifically we will address:

  • The fire history of the district and sequence of events during the fire
  • Resource impacts
  • Discussion of Fuels Treatment Effectiveness
  • The role of the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project in supporting forest restoration on the District.

Presenters:

James Osborne – Fire Management Officer (FMO), Sisters Ranger District

Bill Munro –Natural Resource Team Leader, Sisters Ranger District

Larae Guillory – Assistant Fire Management Officer (Fuels), Sisters Ranger District

Ian Reid – District Ranger, Sisters Ranger District

Nicole Strong – Assistant Professor (Practice), Oregon State University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension

Session Details: Monday, February 26th, 2018 at 1:00pm US/Pacific || Duration: 1 hour

Who should participate?
Land managers/Practitioners, Scientists/Researchers, Other

Prepare your computer or mobile device in advance: WebEx instructions

Register HERE.


Fire Science Core Curriculum

Authored by D. Leavell; Published 2017

This curriculum is designed to teach the basics of fire to non-fire-professional community members, including instructors and landowners, such as ranchers and farmers. The goal is to reduce risk and fire hazard through education and understanding.


Fire Management of American Indian Basket Weaving Plants in the Pacific Northwest

Webinar from Northwest Fire Science Consortium

Georgia Fredeluces and Tony Marks-Block both recipients of the Joint Fire Science Program''s Graduate Research Innovation (GRIN) grant presented 'Fire Management of American Indian Basket Weaving Plants in the Pacific Northwest'

Watch the video on our YouTube Channel.


12th Fire and Forest Meteorology Symposium

Symposium Event from American Meteorological Society

Click here for more information.


Citizen Fire Academy: Curriculum Package for Facilitators and Educators

Authored by S.A. Fitzgerald; Published 2017

The Citizen Fire Academy (CFA) program equips participants with the knowledge they need to improve fire preparedness and resiliency on their own properties and in their communities. This curriculum offers interested educators or agencies the teaching tools needed to conduct their own CFA program, including lesson plans, detailed agendas, tour ideas, and suggestions for presenting it as a hybrid course. The content is divided into six modules, with options to combine and separate the modules to fit the needs of the CFA facilitator.


Social perspectives on the use of reference conditions in restoration of fire-adapted forest landscapes

Authored by L.S. Urgenson; Published 2017

As approaches to ecological restoration become increasingly large scale and collaborative, there is a need to better understand social aspects of restoration and how they influence land management. In this article, we examine social perspectives that influence the determination of ecological reference conditions in restoration. Our analysis is based on in-depth interviews with diverse stakeholders involved in collaborative restoration of fire-adapted forest landscapes. We conducted interviews with 86 respondents from six forest collaboratives that are part of the U.S. Forest Service's Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. Collaboratives use a variety of approaches to develop reference conditions, including historic, contemporary, and future scenarios. Historical conditions prior to European settlement (nineteenth century or “pre-settlement” conditions), or prior to more recent grazing, logging, and exclusion of fire, were the predominant type of reference used in all sites. Stakeholders described benefits and limitations of reference conditions. Primary benefits include (1) providing a science-based framework for bringing stakeholders together around a common vision; (2) gaining social understanding and acceptance of the underlying need for restoration; and (3) serving to neutralize otherwise value-laden discussions about multiple, sometimes competing, resource objectives. Limitations stem from (1) concerns over social conflict when reference conditions are perceived to contradict other stakeholder values and interests, (2) differing interpretations of reference condition science, (3) inappropriate application or over-generalization of reference information, and (4) limited relevance of historical references for current and future conditions in some ecosystems. At the same time, collaboratives are adopting innovative strategies to address conceptual and methodological limitations of reference conditions.