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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.

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A 35,000 yr fire history from the Oregon Coast Range, USA

Authored by C.J. Long; Published 2018

We extend a published 9000 yr fire history record from Little Lake, in the Oregon Coast Range, to 35,000 yr and compare it with the established pollen record from the site. The fire history is based on a high-resolution analysis of charcoal preserved in lake sediments, providing a fire history record that spans the Last Glacial Maximum in North America. The data enabled us to address questions regarding the interactions between large-scale climate changes associated with the shift from glacial to interglacial conditions and the accompanying changes in forest vegetation and fire regimes. The vegetation history indicates a change from open subalpine forests to closed western hemlock and Douglas fir forests as climate moved from cold and dry full glacial to warm and wet Holocene conditions. The fire history indicates that although there was more biomass burned in the Holocene, the frequency of fires between glacial and interglacial conditions was not significantly different, and the fire frequency did not change in concert with regional shifts in vegetation. This suggests that fire is a product of seasonal or multiyear variations in climate that may not cause significant shifts in vegetation. Also, as this short-term climate variability becomes more common in the near future, conditions for fires in these mesic forests may become more common as well.


A Review of Community Smoke Exposure from Wildfire Compared to Prescribed Fire in the United States

Authored by K.M. Navarro; Published 2018

Prescribed fire, intentionally ignited low-intensity fires, and managed wildfires—wildfires that are allowed to burn for land management benefit—could be used as a land management tool to create forests that are resilient to wildland fire. This could lead to fewer large catastrophic wildfires in the future. However, we must consider the public health impacts of the smoke that is emitted from wildland and prescribed fire. The objective of this synthesis is to examine the differences in ambient community-level exposures to particulate matter (PM2.5) from smoke in the United States in relation to two smoke exposure scenarios—wildfire fire and prescribed fire. A systematic search was conducted to identify scientific papers to be included in this review. The Web of Science Core Collection and PubMed, for scientific papers, and Google Scholar were used to identify any grey literature or reports to be included in this review. Sixteen studies that examined particulate matter exposure from smoke were identified for this synthesis—nine wildland fire studies and seven prescribed fire studies. PM2.5 concentrations from wildfire smoke were found to be significantly lower than reported PM2.5 concentrations from prescribed fire smoke. Wildfire studies focused on assessing air quality impacts to communities that were nearby fires and urban centers that were far from wildfires. However, the prescribed fire studies used air monitoring methods that focused on characterizing exposures and emissions directly from, and next to, the burns. This review highlights a need for a better understanding of wildfire smoke impact over the landscape. It is essential for properly assessing population exposure to smoke from different fire types.


BehavePlus updates and changes

Webinar from This webinar was co-sponsored by the Southwest Fire Science Consortium, Northern Rockies Fire Science Network, Southern Rockies Fire Science Network, Northwest Fire Science Consortium, California Fire Science Consortium, Great Basin Fire Science Exchange,

BehavePlus continues to be one of the most widely used fire behavior modeling systems in the U.S.


Fuel mass and stand structure 13 years after logging of a severely burned ponderosa pine forest in northeastern Oregon, U.S.A

Authored by J.D. Mclver; Published 2018

Stand structure and fuel mass were measured in 2011, 13 years after logging of a seasonally dry, ponderosa pine-dominated forest that had burned severely in the 1996 Summit Wildfire, Malheur National Forest, northeastern Oregon, U.S.A. Data are compared to those taken one year after post-fire logging (1999), and analyzed in the context of a second fire (Sunshine Fire) that burned through one of the four treatment blocks in 2008. Three treatments were evaluated in a randomized block experiment: unlogged control, commercial harvest (most dead merchantable trees removed), and fuel reduction harvest (most dead merchantable trees removed plus most dead trees >10 cm diameter). Density and basal area of live trees trended downward between 1999 and 2011, but this delayed mortality was limited to smaller diameter stems. Dead tree basal area (snags) in unlogged stands declined over 12 years by 74%, compared to an 84% decline in logged stands over the same period. Higher snag fall rate in logged stands over time, combined with snag removal during logging in 1998, resulted in snag densities that were 22% of unlogged stands by 2011. In unlogged mixed-species stands, Douglas-fir snags fell at the same rate as did ponderosa pine snags, but fir snags fell at a faster rate in logged stands. Slash fuel tripled over twelve years in unlogged stands, such that mean slash mass levels became equal for all treatments. Unlogged stands accumulated nearly double the mass of coarse woody debris as logged stands, with most of the difference observed in the sound component of coarse woody fuel. By 13 years after logging (2011), density of regeneration averaged higher overall for unlogged stands, but was highly variable and patchy across all study units. Finally, the Sunshine Fire burned through nearly one complete block of the experiment in 2008, and erased most of the effects of the 1998 logging operation: snags were reduced to <0.5 ha−1 for all treatments, forest floor and slash fuel mass declined to near zero, log mass declined to about 25% that observed in stands unburned by the Sunshine Fire, and shrubs, seedlings, and saplings were nearly eliminated. While the intermediate-term effects of the 1998 logging were still evident in 2011, the 1996 Summit Fire remained the most dominant recent disturbance evident on the landscape.


The influence of fire history on soil nutrients and vegetation cover in mixed-severity fire regime forests of the eastern Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA

Authored by M.R.A. Pingree; Published 2018

The rain shadow forests of the Olympic Peninsula exemplify a mixed-severity fire regime class in the midst of a highly productive landscape where spatial heterogeneity of fire severity may have significant implications for below and aboveground post-fire recovery. The purpose of this study was to quantify the impacts of wildfire on forest soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) pools and assess the relationship of pyrogenic carbon (PyC) to soil processes in this mixed-severity ecosystem. We established a 112-year fire chronosequence with nine similar forest stands ranging in time since lastfire (TSF) from 3 to 115 years prior to site establishment. At each site, we measured understory vegetation cover, overstory composition, physical and chemical attributes of surface mineral soils to a depth of 10 cm, and forest floor organic matter. Additionally, non-ionic resin lysimeters were buried over the winter and spring (7–8 months) at the interface of organic and mineral soil to collect O-horizon leached DOC that would potentially contact PyC particles on the forest floor. Nitrogen transformations were also monitored in laboratory soil incubations for a subset of sites. The TSF gradient was significantly correlated with PyC mass in the O-horizon (r = −0.4), O-horizon C (r = 0.4), total phenol content in both O-horizon (r = 0.4) and mineral soils (r = 0.2), and potentially mineralizable N (PMN) (r = 0.4). Recent fire sites contained higher mineral soil total N and inorganic available N, but were not correlated with TSF. Total DOC that accumulated on the non-ionic resins averaged 1.14 (SE ± 0.54) g DOC m−2 year−1 and increased with TSF (r = 0.52; p < 0.0001). Over time, soils appeared to shift toward a more phenolic-rich organic and surface mineral soil, a higher PMN index, denser moss cover, and higher cover of Mahonia nervosa and Rosa gymnocarpa. Multivariate, non-parametric analysis of soil and vegetation factors showed a significant relationship with the TSF gradient between sites (p < 0.001), but not within sites. Soil characteristics were found to be less sensitive to wildfire disturbances than aboveground vegetation composition.


15th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit and 5th Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference

This joint conferences offers a forum where past experience and lessons learned are documented, current work showcased, and emerging ideas/technology presented to provide a strong foundation that will facilitate setting a course to the future that addresses and responds to developing challenges locally, regionally, and globally.

 


6th Int'l Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference

The conference theme is "Fuels of Today – Fire Behavior of Tomorrow" Understanding Fire Behavior and Fuels for Sound Decision Making and Effective Management

This conference will provide government and nongovernment professionals at all levels a valuable opportunity to share information globally about wildland fire behavior and fuels, especially as it pertains to physical, biological, economic, and social sciences.

 

The 6th International Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference offers a forum where past experience and lessons learned are documented, current work showcased, and emerging ideas/technology presented to provide a strong foundation that will facilitate setting a course to the future that addresses and responds to developing challenges locally, regionally, and globally.

 

 http://www.firebehaviorandfuelsconference.com/


Mixed Severity Fire Footprint in the Western Cascades

WHERE:  Middle Fork Ranger District, Willamette National Forest, Westfir, Oregon

WHAT:  Come explore the varied footprint of a mixed severity fire.  The Warner Fire burned approximately 3600 hectares in October, 1991, producing a range of post-fire conditions on the landscape. We will visit a variety of severity expressions, and discuss the spatial pattern and temporal changes this area has experienced, using data collected over the last 26 years. We’ll also discuss how fire suppression efforts have changed over the past quarter century, and the evolving social dimensions of fire on our landscapes.

WHO:  Sponsored by the NW Oregon Ecology Group and Central Cascades Adaptive Management Partnership.

TARGET AUDIENCE:   Practitioners and managers of forestlands and fire ecologists/researchers with an interest in mixed severity fire ecosystems.

HOW:  RSVP PLEASE BY JUNE 29 TO CFRIESEN@FS.FED.US


Rethinking the wildland fire management system

Authored by M.P. Thompson; Published 2018

In the western United States and elsewhere, the need to change society’s relationship with wildfire is well-recognized. Suppressing fewer fires in fire-prone systems is promoted to escape existing feedback loops that lead to ever worsening conditions and increasing risks to responders and communities. Our primary focus is how to catalyze changes in fire manager behavior such that responses are safer, more effective, and capitalize on opportunities for expanded use of fire. We daylight deep-seated, systemic drivers of behavior, and in so doing, challenge ingrained ways of thinking and acting that may be inconsistent with current intentions around wildland fire management. We pose the questions of whether all fires are emergencies that require rapid deployment and concentration of suppression resources, whether rhetoric and actions align with policy and guidance, and whether we can unambiguously define and measure what a safe and effective response looks like. Using the Forest Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a relevant test case for systemic investigation, we argue that fundamental changes in how the fire management community thinks about, learns from, plans for, and responds to wildland fires may be necessary. Our intention is to initiate a broader dialog around the current and future state of wildland fire management.