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Research Brief Fire Effects on Stream Ecosystem Responses in Western Oregon Watersheds
Date Published

On 7 September 2020, strong winds in western Oregon ignited and spread many small fires, leading to multiple simultaneous megafires (fires > 404 km2) that burned across multiple land ownerships. These fires burned at differing severities, resulting in a range of post-fire riparian and freshwater conditions and an opportunity to evaluate aquatic and riparian responses to fire across…

Research Brief Biological Disturbance Agents, Fuels, and Fire in Western Conifer Forests
Date Published
Biological disturbance agents (BDAs) can affect forest composition and structure in multiple ways, including by changing fuels in ways that affect fire risk and behavior. While some research has shown that BDAs can increase the likelihood and severity of wildfires, other research has shown the opposite. These opposing findings have led to confusion around the influence of BDAs on fuels and fire…
Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #24 - Wildfire Risk in Western Oregon and Washington
Year 2022

The wildfires that ignited September 7-9, 2020 (collectively named the “Labor Day Fires”) on the west side of the Oregon Cascades (Westside) were a devastating reminder that these communities and forests are at risk from wildfires. The fires collectively burned more than 2.2 million acres, caused fatalities and billions of dollars in damage, placed more than 10% of the state’s residents under…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #23 - Fire and Land Cover Change in the Palouse Praire-Forest Ecotone
Year 2021

The Palouse Prairie is a highly endangered ecosystem found along the Idaho–Washington border. The Palouse Prairie intermixes with the imperiled ponderosa pine savanna along this border, making the ecotone between these communities particularly diverse and ecologically important. Unfortunately, like many grassland and savanna communities across North America and the world, this rich prairie–…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #22 - Policy barriers & opportunities for prescribed fire application in the Western US
Year 2020

For this study, researchers conducted 54 key informant interviews across the 11 western states to investigate policy-relatedbarriers to prescribed fire on federal lands. In particular, they examined how laws, policies, and policy implementationaffect prescribed fire application, and identified common challenges to and opportunities for increasing application.

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #21 - Understanding climate and human impacts on historical fire regimes in the PNW
Year 2019
Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #20 - Covering Wildfires: Media Emphasis and Silence
Year 2019

In this study, researchers examined print media coverage, data of burned homes, and demographic data of towns impacted by two major wildfires in Washington State. The Carlton Complex burned over 250,000 acres and hundreds of homes in the Methow Valley in 2014, becoming the largest wildfire in Washington’s history. In 2015, the fires that made up the Okanogan Complex burned over 300,000 acres…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #19 - Adjusting the lenses of past, present and future to bring into focus the role of frequent fire in dry forests
Year 2019

In this study, the authors characterized historical fire return intervals, seasonality, and relationships with local and regional factors for 13 sites representative of southwestern Oregon dry forests on ridges and midslopes in the Rogue Basin of the Klamath Ecoregion. They used dendrochronology (cross-dated fire-scars from trees) to develop fire histories. Then using a systematic literature…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #18 - Burning for Butterflies: Identifying Weather and Fuel Conditions that Protect and Promote Butterfly Habitat
Year 2018

In this study, researchers measured vegetation structure and fuel moisture (pre-burn), weather conditions, belowground heat dosages, and peak temperatures (during the burn), and burn severities and unburned refugia (post-burn) for paired morning and afternoon prescribed burns at each of ten prairie sites throughout the south Puget Sound in 2014.

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #17 - Ecological Reference Conditions: Perspectives in Collaborative Restoration of Dry Forest Landscapes
Year 2018

This study examined stakeholder perspectives on reference conditions among collaboratives engaged in the restoration of dry, fire-adapted forest landscapes managed by the U.S. Forest Service. In particular, the authors examined social perspectives that influenced the determination of ecological reference conditions. They interviewed stakeholders associated with six collaborative groups from…

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

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

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #14: Engagement Strategies: Helping Facilitate Development & Implementation of Adaptation Options
Year 2017

In this paper, the authors describe an approach to facilitate development and implementation of climate change adaptation options in forest management which they applied to a case study area in southwestern Oregon, USA. Their approach relied on participation of local specialists across multiple organizations to establish a science–manager partnership, development of climate change education in…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #13: Contracted Suppression Resources: Private Engine Dispatch and Sharing in the Northwest
Year 2017

In this study, researchers used data from the US Forest Service’s National Resource Ordering and Status System to investigate how private sector resources were dispatched to fires. In particular, they examined the dispatch of private engines in the Northwest Geographic Area (GA), which encompasses Oregon and Washington, from 2008 to 2015. The researchers also investigated how private sector…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #12: Landscape-level prescriptions: A new foundation for restoration planning
Year 2016

Continued conflict around natural resource management and dwindled public confidence in land management agencies has necessitated the development of a new collaborative social contract for land management in the West. However, even within the sphere of collaboration, restoring the key characteristics of landscape resilience to landscapes has been a challenge. Science has a golden opportunity…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #11: Pathology of Wildfire Risk: A Characterization of Social and Ecological Dimensions
Year 2016

In this paper, researchers examine the problem of growing wildfire risk through a coupled natural and human systems (CNHS) perspective. They characterized the primary social and ecological dimensions of what they termed a socioecological pathology of wildfire risk in temperate forests, or “a set of complex and problematic interactions among social and ecological systems across multiple spatial…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #10: Post-fire logging: Examing long-term effects on understory vegetation
Year 2016

This study investigated the long-term response of understory vegetation to two post-fire logging treatments (commercial salvage logging with and without additional fuel reduction logging) in northeastern Oregon. Researchers assessed if there were lasting effects on understory plant cover, species diversity, plant community composition, and exotic species cover in experimental treatment units…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #9: Wildfire impacts on spring Chinook Salmon: Habitat quality in the Wenatchee River sub-basin
Year 2016

In this study, researchers developed models of freshwater habitat for spring Chinook Salmon in pre- and post-fire scenarios in the Wenatchee River sub-basin of central Washington, where a large number of wildfires have occurred in the past 30 years. They predicted changes in in-stream wood, sediment, and water temperature as a result of wildfires and modeled their influence on habitat quality…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #8: Cumulative disturbances on the landscape: Lessons from the Pole Creek fire, Oregon
Year 2016

Previous research has focused on quantifying fuel loadings and using operational fire behavior models to understand changes in fire severity following MPB outbreaks. In this study however, researchers used direct field measurements taken from the 2012 Pole Creek Fire that burned in lodgepole pine forests in central Oregon’s Eastern Cascade Mountains, which had experienced a MPB epidemic 8-15…

Research Brief NWFSC Research Brief #7: Communication Under Fire: Communication Efficacy During Wildfire Incidents
Year 2016

In this study, researchers analyzed the influence of pre-incident familiarity, stakeholder affiliation, and primary wildfire response/functional role on communication frequency and efficacy during three western U.S. wildfires ignited on U.S. Forest Service land. All fires occurred in wildland/urban interface areas, and involved a range of parties including Type 1 Incident Management Team…