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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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NWFSC Research Brief #15: Conflict Around Suppression: Drivers and Legacies

Authored by N.W.Fire Scien Consortium; Published 2017

In this study, researchers interviewed 48 residents, community leaders, and professionals involved in wildfire and forest management during the 2006 Columbia Complex Fire in southeastern Washington State. The fire burned 109,402 acres of grain, pasture, and forest as well as 28 structures around Dayton, WA and was managed at different stages by teams from all three levels of the Incident Command (IC) system, with multiple state, federal, and international fire teams involved. Conflict surrounding the fires’ management was covered by the media. Researchers interviewed local community members (external IC team members were not interviewed) about the roots of the conflict between local rural residents and the external Incident Command system. In particular, they sought to identify specific elements of social interaction and underlying structure that led to tensions with Incident Command teams during the wildfire, and whether the conflict persisted long-term.


NWFSC Fire Facts: What is? Fuel

Authored by N.W.Fire Scien Consortium; Published 2017

Any material that burns. Read more at Fire Facts: What is? Fuel.


NWFSC Fire Facts: What is? Weather

Authored by N.W.Fire Scien Consortium; Published 2017

Weather describes short-term variations in the atmosphere from hot to cold, wet to dry, calm to stormy, clear to cloudy. Read more at Fire Facts: What is? Weather


Tamm Review: Shifting global fire regimes: Lessons from reburns and research needs

Authored by S.J. Prichard; Published 2017

Across the globe, rising temperatures and altered precipitation patterns have caused persistent regional droughts, lengthened fire seasons, and increased the number of weather-driven extreme fire events. Because wildfires currently impact an increasing proportion of the total area burned, land managers need to better understand reburns – in which previously burned areas can modify the patterns and severity of subsequent fires. For example, knowing how long past fire boundaries can function as barriers to fire spread may empower decision-makers to manage some wildfires as large-scale fuel treatments, or alternatively, determine where prescribed burning or strategic wildfire management are required. Additionally, a clear understanding of how prior burn mosaics influence future fire spread and burn severity is critical knowledge for landscape and fire-dependent wildlife habitat planning under a rapidly changing climate. Here, we review published studies on reburns in fire-adapted ecosystems of the world, including temperate forests of North America, semi-arid forests and rangelands, tropical and subtropical forests, grasslands and savannas, and Mediterranean ecosystems. To date, research on reburns is unevenly distributed across the world with a relative abundance of literature in Australia, Europe and North America and a scarcity of studies in Africa, Asia and South America. This review highlights the complex role of repeated fires in modifying vegetation and fuels, and patterns of subsequent wildfires. In fire-prone ecosystems, the return of fire is inevitable, and legacies of past fires, or their absence, often dictate the characteristics of subsequent fires.


Interactions of predominant insects and diseases with climate change in Douglas-fir forests of western Oregon and Washington, U.S.A.

Authored by M.C. Agne; Published 2017

Forest disturbance regimes are beginning to show evidence of climate-mediated changes, such as increasing severity of droughts and insect outbreaks. We review the major insects and pathogens affecting the disturbance regime for coastal Douglas-fir forests in western Oregon and Washington State, USA, and ask how future climate changes may influence their role in disturbance ecology. Although the physiological constraints of light, temperature, and moisture largely control tree growth, episodic and chronic disturbances interacting with biological factors have substantial impacts on the structure and functioning of forest ecosystems in this region. Understanding insect and disease interactions is critical to predicting forest response to climate change and the consequences for ecosystem services, such as timber, clean water, fish and wildlife. We focused on future predictions for warmer wetter winters, hotter drier summers, and elevated atmospheric CO2 to hypothesize the response of Douglas-fir forests to the major insects and diseases influencing this forest type: Douglas-fir beetle, Swiss needle cast, black stain root disease, and laminated root rot. We hypothesize that (1) Douglas-fir beetle and black stain root disease could become more prevalent with increasing, fire, temperature stress, and moisture stress, (2) future impacts of Swiss needle cast are difficult to predict due to uncertainties in May-July leaf wetness, but warmer winters could contribute to intensification at higher elevations, and (3) laminated root rot will be influenced primarily by forest management, rather than climatic change. Furthermore, these biotic disturbance agents interact in complex ways that are poorly understood. Consequently, to inform management decisions, insect and disease influences on disturbance regimes must be characterized specifically by forest type and region in order to accurately capture these interactions in light of future climate-mediated changes.


NWFSC Research Brief #16: Rangeland Fire Protection Associations: Institutional and Social Dimensions of an Alternative Model of Wildfire Response

Authored by N.W.Fire Scien Consortium; Published 2017

In this paper, researchers examined the design and outcomes of RFPA programs in Oregon and Idaho through comparative studies of four established RFPAs. They set out to understand whether and how the design and implementation of state programs and interactions with BLM fire professionals allowed ranchers to participate on the fireline, encouraged adaptive learning, and fostered engagement in proactive fire preparation as well as suppression.


Prescribed Fire: Smoke Management and Regulatory Challenges

The Western Governors' Association will host the webinar, Prescribed Fire: Smoke Management and Regulatory Challenges at 10 a.m. (MST) on Tuesday, Dec. 19 as part of the series for the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.

Prescribed fire is a tool for land managers to address wildfire mitigation needs, combat invasive species and improve wildlife habitat. However, prescribed fire is often underused due to concerns about visible smoke, legal liability and possible effects on state implementation plans for air quality.

The webinar will look at challenges facing the use of prescribed fire and opportunities to expand the use of prescribed fire as an element of responsible land management. Find more information on the webinar.

Moderator: Mike Zupko, Executive Director, Wildland Fire Leadership Council. Panelists: Pete Lahm, Smoke Manager, U.S. Forest Service; Mark Melvin, Chair, Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils and Mary Uhl, Executive Director, Western States Air Resources Council.

Register Now


NWFSC Fire Facts: What is? Fire Behavior

Authored by N.W.Fire Scien Consortium; Published 2017

Fire behavior is the way a fire acts - how and when fuels ignite, flames develop, and fire spreads as influenced by its interaction with fuel, weather, and topography. Read more at Fire Facts: What is? Fire Behavior.