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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


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.


Out of the Ashes: Ecological Resilience to Extreme Wildfire, Prescribed Burns, and Indigenous Burning in Ecosystems

Authored by C. Eisenberg; Published 2019

Until Euro-American colonization, Indigenous people used fire to modify eco-cultural systems, developing robust Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Since 1980, wildfire activity has increased due to fire suppression and climate change. In 2017, in Waterton Lakes National Park, AB, the Kenow wildfire burned 19,303 ha, exhibiting extreme fire behavior. It affected forests and the Eskerine Complex, a native-grass prairie treated with prescribed burns since 2006 to reduce aspen (Populus tremuloides) encroachment linked to fire suppression and bison (Bison bison bison) extirpation. One year post-fire, the Kenow wildfire caused vigorous aspen sprouting, altered stand structure to an early-seral state and changed dominant land cover from grass to mineral soil. It did not change aspen-cover extent or cause non-native grass eruption, but it reduced native-grass diversity and produced more pronounced shifts in ecosystem structure and biodiversity than the prescribed burn. The 2017 Kenow wildfire and prescribed burns differed in phenological timing, scale, and severity. Prescribed burns occurred in late spring, with little fuel available, while the Kenow wildfire occurred in late summer, with abundant fuel—amplifying the difference in severity. As in other climate-limited fire regimes, prescribed burns treatments did not mitigate the severity of the Kenow wildfire. To more effectively reduce the extent of aspen cover, future prescribed burns in this system could be applied in the late season. Incorporating TEK in adaptive co-management can help create ecosystems more resilient to fire and pervasive stressors such as invasive plants, provided one contextualizes current conditions and how they differ from historical conditions.


Social Vulnerability and Wildfire in the Wildland-Urban Interface: Literature synthesis

Authored by M.R. Coughlan; Published 2019

The overall objective of this paper is to clarify areas of debate, clearly define and contrast disparate approaches, and synthesize findings that may help address vulnerability to wildfires and other natural hazards. While land managers and fire personnel might find it pertinent to approach biophysical and social issues separately, addressing both aspects of wildfire hazard can be productive for minimizing risk and empowering communities, neighborhoods, and households to prepare and recover from wildfire events. We aim to provide a practical grasp of social vulnerability research as it relates to wildfire hazards in order to advance its application by people involved in wildland fire management in their efforts to address the social diversity and complexity they face in their wildfire prevention, mitigation, and suppression activities.


Risk Management and Analytics in Wildfire Response

Authored by M.P. Thompson; Published 2019

Purpose of Review

The objectives of this paper are to briefly review basic risk management and analytics concepts, describe their nexus in relation to wildfire response, demonstrate real-world application of analytics to support response decisions and organizational learning, and outline an analytics strategy for the future.

Recent Findings

Analytics can improve decision-making and organizational performance across a variety of areas from sports to business to real-time emergency response. A lack of robust descriptive analytics on wildfire incident response effectiveness is a bottleneck for developing operationally relevant and empirically credible predictive and prescriptive analytics to inform and guide strategic response decisions. Capitalizing on technology such as automated resource tracking and machine learning algorithms can help bridge gaps between monitoring, learning, and data-driven decision-making.

Summary

By investing in better collection, documentation, archiving, and analysis of operational data on response effectiveness, fire management organizations can promote systematic learning and provide a better evidence base to support response decisions. We describe an analytics management framework that can provide structure to help deploy analytics within organizations, and provide real-world examples of advanced fire analytics applied in the USA. To fully capitalize on the potential of analytics, organizations may need to catalyze cultural shifts that cultivate stronger appreciation for data-driven decision processes, and develop informed skeptics that effectively balance both judgment and analysis in decision-making.


Forest Health in Oregon: State of the State 2020 Conference

Workshop Event from Oregon State University Extension

The biennial Forest Health in Oregon conference and scientific update is a great opportunity to hear from researchers and members of the forestry community about the current condition of Oregon’s forests, forest health trends, challenges, current research, and silvicultural solutions. Geared to foresters, forest managers, woodland owners, students, policymakers, and others with an interest in forest health, the conference will provide a blend of current information and practical applications.

Program

The Forest Health 2020 Conference brings together researchers and managers to present the current state of the science on forest health in Oregon. Topics at this year's conference include: Insects, Pathogens, & Invasive Species; Wildlife & Ecosystem Services; Fire; Silviculture, Forest Health, & Operations; Collaboratives & Partnerships; and Drought & Weather.

Registration

Early registration ($150) is open through February 18th; beginning on February 19th the registration fee is $200. One-day rates and student registration are also available.

For more information on the program, registration, and logistics, please click here.