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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

Oregon Prescribed Fire Training Exchanges (TREX)

Please see attachment for information on both the Central Oregon TREX and the Ashland, OR TREX.

Wildfire risk science facilitates adaptation of fire-prone social-ecological systems to the new fire reality

Authored by C.J. Dunn; Published 2020

Large and severe wildfires are an observable consequence of an increasingly arid American West. There is increasing consensus that human communities, land managers, and fire managers need to adapt and learn to live with wildfires. However, a myriad of human and ecological factors constrain adaptation, and existing science-based management strategies are not sufficient to address fire as both a problem and solution. To that end, we present a novel risk-science approach that aligns wildfire response decisions, mitigation opportunities, and land management objectives by consciously integrating social, ecological and fire management system needs. We use fire-prone landscapes of the US Pacific Northwest as our study area, and report on and describe how three complementary risk-based analytic tools—quantitative wildfire risk assessment, mapping of suppression difficulty, and atlases of potential control locations—can form the foundation for adaptive governance in fire management. Together, these tools integrate wildfire risk with fire management difficulties and opportunities, providing a more complete picture of the wildfire risk management challenge. Leveraging recent and ongoing experience integrating local experiential knowledge with these tools, we provide examples and discuss how these geospatial datasets create a risk-based planning structure that spans multiple spatial scales and uses. These uses include pre-planning strategic wildfire response, implementing safe wildfire response balancing risk with likelihood of success, and alignment of non-wildfire mitigation opportunities to support wildfire risk management more directly. We explicitly focus on multi-jurisdictional landscapes to demonstrate how these tools highlight the shared responsibility of wildfire risk mitigation. By integrating quantitative risk science, expert judgement and adaptive co-management, this process provides a much-needed pathway to transform fire-prone social ecological systems to be more responsive and adaptable to change and live with fire in an increasingly arid American West.

How does tree regeneration respond to mixed‐severity fire in the western Oregon Cascades, USA?

Authored by C.J. Dunn; Published 2020

Dendroecological studies of historical tree recruitment patterns suggest mixed‐severity fire effects are common in Douglas‐fir/western hemlock forests of the Pacific Northwest (PNW), USA, but empirical studies linking observed fire severity to tree regeneration response are needed to expand our understanding into the functional role of fire in this forest type. Recent increases in mixed‐severity fires offered this opportunity, so we quantified the abundance, spatial distribution, species richness, and community composition of regenerating trees across a mixed‐severity fire gradient (unburned–high‐severity fire) 10 and 22 yr post‐fire, and use our results to inform a discussion of fire's functional role in western Oregon Cascades Douglas‐fir forests. Regeneration abundance was unimodal across the fire severity gradient such that the greatest mean abundance followed moderate‐severity fire (25–75% basal area mortality). Similarly, the greatest number of species was present within the most 25‐m2 regeneration quadrants (most extensive distribution) following moderate‐severity fire, relative to any other fire severity class. On average, species richness also exhibited a unimodal distribution across the severity gradient, increasing by 100% in stands that experienced moderate‐severity fire relative to unburned forests or following high‐severity fire, as predicted by the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis. Several distinct regeneration communities emerged across the fire severity gradient, including early seral tree communities indicative of those observed in initial and relay floristics successional models for this forest type. Most significantly, moderate‐severity fire alters successional trajectories and facilitates the establishment of a more diverse tree regeneration community than observed following low‐ or high‐severity fire. These communities are reflective of the diverse overstory communities commonly encountered throughout this forest type. The emergence of these diverse forests is unlikely to develop or persist in the absence of moderate‐severity fire effects, and may be perpetuated longer by recurring moderate‐severity fire relative to experiencing stand replacing fire. Therefore, moderate‐severity fire may be the most functionally important fire effect in Douglas‐fir forests and should be better represented in successional models and more prominent in ecologically based fire and forest management.

Evaluating Model Predictions of Fire Induced Tree Mortality Using Wildfire-Affected Forest Inventory Measurements

Authored by J.S. Barker; Published 2019

Forest land managers rely on predictions of tree mortality generated from fire behavior models to identify stands for post-fire salvage and to design fuel reduction treatments that reduce mortality. A key challenge in improving the accuracy of these predictions is selecting appropriate wind and fuel moisture inputs. Our objective was to evaluate postfire mortality predictions using the Forest Vegetation Simulator Fire and Fuels Extension (FVS-FFE) to determine if using representative fire-weather data would improve prediction accuracy over two default weather scenarios. We used pre- and post-fire measurements from 342 stands on forest inventory plots, representing a wide range of vegetation types affected by wildfire in California, Oregon, and Washington. Our representative weather scenarios were created by using data from local weather stations for the time each stand was believed to have burned. The accuracy of predicted mortality (percent basal area) with different weather scenarios was evaluated for all stands, by forest type group, and by major tree species using mean error, mean absolute error (MAE), and root mean square error (RMSE). One of the representative weather scenarios, Mean Wind, had the lowest mean error (4%) in predicted mortality, but performed poorly in some forest types, which contributed to a relatively high RMSE of 48% across all stands. Driven in large part by over-prediction of modelled flame length on steeper slopes, the greatest over-prediction mortality errors arose in the scenarios with higher winds and lower fuel moisture. Our results also indicated that fuel moisture was a stronger influence on post-fire mortality than wind speed. Our results suggest that using representative weather can improve accuracy of mortality predictions when attempting to model over a wide range of forest types. Focusing simulations exclusively on extreme conditions, especially with regard to wind speed, may lead to over-prediction of tree mortality from fire.

Winter isn't Coming. Prepare for the Pyrocene!

Webinar from Northwest Fire Science Consortium

Stephen Pyne, emeritus professor at Arizona State University presents "Winter isn't Coming. Prepare for the Pyrocene." Watch the video on our YouTube channel. Closed captioning available.