Data on plant cover and density was collected on 67 sites in a 209,000 ha study area that varied in fire and post-fire rehabilitation history along gradients in elevation, soil texture, and precipitation
RESEARCH & PUBLICATIONS
This Rangelands on the Edge (ROTE) project improves our understanding of the fate of rangelands from historical, present day, and future perspectives by describing human modification, fragmentation, and future residential growth projections for rangeland-dominated vegetation.
This report presents a new fuel sampling method, called the photoload sampling technique, to quickly and accurately estimate loadings for six common surface fuel components (1 hr, 10 hr, 100 hr, and 1000 hr downed dead woody, shrub, and herbaceous fuels).
The original objective of the study was to determine how ignition, smoldering, and flaming are affected by the age of masticated fuels using a combined field and lab approach.
Almost half of the full community costs of wildfire are paid for at the local level, including homeowners, businesses, and government agencies.
This report is an outstanding complete description of not only the Rothermel model, but also the modifications and addendums that have evolved for supporting the many systems that use the model.
This study found that area burned during the 30-year period, number of fires each year, and fire size followed a strong geographic pattern: Northern Intermountain > Southern Intermountain > Southern Rocky Mountain > Central Rocky Mountain.
This Gap Report Update is the latest addition to the list of valuable products of the Working Group designed to help identify the challenges (gaps) and offer ideas to address those challenges.
The objectives of this study, were: 1) use of climate projections to predict changes in fire activity in 2050, 2) identify potential changes in vegetation and fuels resulting from changes in climate
Implementing cost effective fuel treatment programs requires a spatially explicit and integrated systematic approach that can be applied to the landscape, program and national scale.
The Oregon Forest Resources Institute set out to gather what information is currently available, from media reports, individual interviews and hard-nosed research.
Adaptation strategies for rangeland vegetation focus on increasing resilience of rangeland ecosystems, primarily through non-native species control and prevention.
In October 2017, after a review of the 2015 Federal plans relative to State sage-grouse plans, in accordance with Secretarial Order 3353, the BLM issued a notice of intent to consider whether to amend some, all, or none of the 2015 land use plans.
This study evaluated spatio-temporal patterns of fire in piñon and juniper land cover types from the National Gap Analysis Program using Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS 2016) data (1984 through 2013) for Northern and Southern Intermountain and Central and Southern Rocky Mountain geographic regions.
Spatial wildfire suppression costs regressions have been re-estimated at a more disaggregated level for the nine Geographic Area Coordination Center (GACC’s) regions using five years of data for fires involving National Forests.
This project quantifies the effects of fuel treatments and previously burned areas on daily fire
management costs, as well as summarizes recent encounter rates between fuel treatments and
wildland fires across the conterminous United States.
The fire characteristics chart is a graphical method of presenting U.S. National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) indexes and components as well as primary surface or crown fire behavior characteristics. Computer software has been developed to produce fire characteristics charts for both fire danger and fire behavior in a format suitable for inclusion in reports and presentations.
Fuel treatments decreased intrinsic water use efficiency relative to the control in Arizona
although the differences were not sufficiently large to reach the threshold of statistical
This study showed higher levels of resilience to fire than is typically discussed in the sagebrush steppe, in part because the studied ecosystems were in good condition before the fire, but also because the longer post-fire monitoring time (17 years) may be more appropriate to capture patterns of succession in these ecosystems.
This work combines a comprehensive literature review with extensive smoke exposure concentration data for wildland firefighters to estimate health risks specific to wildland fire smoke. First, we conducted a literature review to identify smoke components that present the highest health hazard potential, the mechanisms of their toxicity, and reviewed epidemiological studies to identify the current gaps in knowledge about the health impacts of wildland fire smoke exposure for firefighters and the public. Next, we examined wildland firefighter exposures, explored predictors of smoke exposures to determine factors influencing smoke exposure for wildland firefighters and estimated exposure to air pollutants using carbon monoxide (CO) as an indicator pollutant. Lastly, we estimated disease risk in wildland firefighters for exposure to particulate matter from smoke using firefighter specific breathing rates with existing exposure response relationship information for risk of lung cancer, ischemic heart disease and cardiovascular disease from cigarette smoking, which produces particulate matter with a similar size range.
In this report, we review the ecohydrology of southwestern streams and share results from our study sites along the Middle Rio Grande to describe effects of hydrological changes, wildfire, and invasions on plant communities and riparian-nesting birds. We also examine climate change projections and output from population models to gauge the future of aridland riparian ecosystems in an increasingly arid Southwest.
In this report, literature-based information and expert elicitation are used to define (a) components of sensitivity and exposure to climate change and (b) the capacity of these ecosystems to adapt to expected changes. Aspen ecosystems benefit from fire and quickly reproduce. Yet, aspen trees are susceptible to drought and heat that is projected to become more frequent and intense in the future. Some aspen-associated plant and animal species may benefit from the expected changes in disturbance regimes and stand structure, while others may experience population reductions or stress as a result of drought and heat. Overall, vulnerability is defined as moderate because although persistence of aspen ecosystems is likely, a dynamic spatial and temporal response to climate change is expected.
For this mapping process across the entire mapping extent, four sets of products are available, including (1) a shapefile representing accuracy results linked to mapping subunits; (2) binary rasters representing conifer presence or absence at a 1 × 1 m resolution; (3) a 30 × 30 m resolution raster representing percentages of conifer canopy cover within each cell from 0 to 100; and (4) 1 × 1 m resolution canopy cover classification rasters derived from a 50-m-radius moving window analysis. The latter two products can be reclassified in a geographic information system (GIS) into user-specified bins to meet different objectives, which include approximations for phases of encroachment. These products complement, and in some cases improve upon, existing conifer maps in the Western United States, and will help facilitate sage-grouse habitat management and sagebrush ecosystem restoration.
This report evaluated the nesting and brood-rearing microhabitat factors that influence selection and survival patterns in the Great Basin using a large dataset of microhabitat characteristics from study areas spanning northern Nevada and a portion of northeastern California from 2009 to 2016. The spatial and temporal coverage of the dataset provided a powerful opportunity to evaluate microhabitat factors important to sage-grouse reproduction, while also considering habitat variation associated with different climatic conditions and areas affected by wildfire. The summary statistics for numerous microhabitat factors, and the strength of their association with sage-grouse habitat selection and survival, are provided in this report to support decisions by land managers, policy-makers, and others with the best-available science in a timely manner.
This report identified leks and larger scale populations in immediate need of management, based on the occurrence of two criteria: (1) crossing of a destabilizing threshold designed to identify significant rates of population decline at a particular nested scale; and (2) crossing of decoupling thresholds designed to identify rates of population decline at smaller scales that decouple from rates of population change at a larger spatial scale. This approach establishes how declines affected by local disturbances can be separated from those operating at larger scales (for example, broad-scale wildfire and region-wide drought). Given the threshold output from our analysis, this adaptive management framework can be implemented readily and annually to facilitate responsive and effective actions for sage-grouse populations in the Great Basin. The rules of the framework can also be modified to identify populations responding positively to management action or demonstrating strong resilience to disturbance. Similar hierarchical approaches might be beneficial for other species occupying landscapes with heterogeneous disturbance and climatic regimes.
This study found that:
- Few changes in most of the measured masticated fuel bed properties were detected over the 10 years represented in the sample. This indicates that in dry environments, it may take at least 10 years for ecological processes to change fuel characteristics enough for adverse fire effects to be mitigated.
- Burning masticated fuel beds in a laboratory revealed that there is a great deal of heat that is pulsed into the soil that could cause major mortality to belowground systems. This is especially true in high loading fuel beds with duff layers present.
- All masticated fuel beds dried to equilibrium in less than seven days, indication that these quickly drying fuels can be readily susceptible to smoldering combustion after 5-7 days of drying.
- Existing fuel models (including 11, SB1, SB2 and two existing custom fuel models) were good at representing fire behavior, indicating that there is no need to develop new, custom fuel models for masticated fuel beds.
In this report, guidelines are presented for restoring whitebark pine under future climates using the rangewide restoration strategy structure. The information to create the guidelines came from two sources: (1) a comprehensive review of the literature and (2) a modeling experiment that simulated various climate change, management, and fire exclusion scenarios. The general guidelines presented here are to be used with the rangewide strategy to address climate change impacts for planning, designing, implementing, and evaluating fine-scale restoration activities for whitebark pine by public land management agencies.
The goals of the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative are to:
- Examine existing forest and rangeland management authorities and programs to determine their strengths and weaknesses;
- Perform a detailed investigation of the role of collaboratives in landscape restoration;
- Create a mechanism for states and land managers to share best practices, case studies and policy options for forest and rangeland management; and
- Recommend improved forest and rangeland management authorities and encourage more effective collaboration.
This report outlines the launch year of the Initiative and includes both administrative and legislative recommendations.
Access white papers.
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) developed many sage-grouse white papers in summer 2017. Topics include: captive breeding, hunting, predator control, and population and habitat management.
View report and highlights.
Conditions such as dense vegetation and drought have resulted in more severe wildland fires in recent years, and some communities are experiencing the devastating effects of these fires. Federal agencies can collaborate with nonfederal stakeholders to reduce the risk of wildland fires. This is a key aspect of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. The Government Accountability Office recommends that federal agencies work with the Wildland Fire Leadership Council—which provides oversight and leadership for the strategy—to develop measures to assess progress toward achieving the strategy’s goals.
This chapter reviews some of the conceptual and technological advancements and provide examples of how they have influenced rangeland monitoring. It then discuss implications of these developments for rangeland management and highlight what are seen as challenges and opportunities for implementing effective rangeland monitoring. It concludes with a vision for how monitoring can contribute to rangeland information needs in the future.
This report examines federal officials’ and stakeholders’ views on (1) factors that affect federal-nonfederal collaboration aimed at reducing wildland fire risk to communities and (2) actions that could improve their ability to reduce risk to communities.
This Association for Fire Ecology position paper is an organization-wide initiative with two objectives: to determine the prevalence of these two issues throughout the profession, including management, education, and research; and to provide a set of principles and actions that are strongly recommended for implementation in order to foster organizational cultures of respect, equity, and parity.
This synthesis examines the fundamental spatial and temporal disconnects between the specific policies that have been crafted to address our wildfire challenges and a reorientation of goals to focus on creating an anticipatory wildfire governance system focused on social and ecological resilience.
This report provides a strategic approach developed by a Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies interagency working group for conservation of sagebrush ecosystems, Greater sage-grouse, and Gunnison sage-grouse. It uses information on (1) factors that influence sagebrush ecosystem resilience to disturbance and resistance to nonnative invasive annual grasses and (2) distribution and relative abundance of sage-grouse populations to address persistent ecosystem threats, such as invasive annual grasses and wildfire, and land use and development threats, such as oil and gas development and cropland conversion, to develop effective management strategies. A sage-grouse habitat matrix links relative resilience and resistance of sagebrush ecosystems with modeled sage-grouse breeding habitat probabilities to help decisionmakers assess risks and determine appropriate management strategies at both landscape and site scales. Areas for targeted management are assessed by overlaying matrix components with Greater sage-grouse Priority Areas for Conservation and Gunnison sage-grouse critical habitat and linkages, breeding bird concentration areas, and specific habitat threats. Decision tools are discussed for determining the suitability of target areas for management and the most appropriate management actions. A similar approach was developed for the Great Basin that was incorporated into the Federal land use plan amendments and served as the basis of a Bureau of Land Management Fire and Invasives Assessment Tool, which was used to prioritize sage-grouse habitat for targeted management activities.
The Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy outlined the need for coordinated, science-based adaptive management to achieve long-term protection, conservation, and restoration of the sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem.
This report documents the growth over the past 20 years of the portion of the Forest Service’s budget that is dedicated to fire, and the debilitating impact those rising costs are having on the recreation, restoration, planning, and other activities of the Forest Service.
The Science and Traditional Ecological Knowledge Strategic Plan guides the Great Basin LCC’s science program over a three to five year period (2015-2019). The plan outlines the LCC’s priority topics and how they will be updated, describes the process to determine annual focal topics and activities, and outlines how the LCC will implement, evaluate and adjust the science program.
This handbook discusses concepts surrounding landscape and restoration ecology of sagebrush ecosystems and greater sage-grouse that habitat managers and restoration practitioners need to know to make informed decisions regarding where and how to restore specific areas.
This handbook will guide decision makers through the important process steps of identifying appropriate questions, gathering appropriate data, developing landscape objectives, and prioritizing landscape patches where potential sites for restoration projects may be located. Once potential sites are selected, land managers can move to the site-specific decision tool to guide restoration decisions at the site level.
This report outlines national and regional prescribed fire activity, state prescribed fire programs, and identifies impediments limiting the use of prescribed fire. The results include all federal, state, and private prescribed fire acres for forestry, rangeland, and agricultural burning that occurred in 2014.
This assessment establishes the scientific foundation needed to manage for drought resilience and adaptation. Focal areas include drought characterization; drought impacts on forest processes and disturbances such as insect outbreaks and wildfire; and consequences for forest and rangeland values.
For over fifteen years, the Joint Fire Science Program (www.firescience.gov) has funded discovery and innovation used every day by wildland fire managers.
The highest compliment for our work happens when research discoveries are adopted and integrated as standards for fire management professionals.
JFSP now sponsors the Regional Knowledge Exchange. Each Exchange is focused on establishing relationships and discovering priorities of stakeholders interested in wildland fire in their region.
"Given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand Federal efforts and take new steps to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels. These steps should include the development of new public-private partnerships and increased citizen engagement."
This Report provides a strategic approach for conservation of sagebrush ecosystems and Greater Sage-Grouse (sage-grouse) that focuses specifically on habitat threats caused by invasive annual grasses and altered fire regimes.
This document—a planning guide—is the outcome of an international collaboration of researchers and practitioners/field managers in support of fire management personnel.
Our capacity to address the rapid and complex changes occurring in semi-arid ecosystems due to invasive grasses can be enhanced by developing an understanding of the environmental factors and ecosystem attributes that determine resilience of native ecosystems to stress and disturbance, and resistance to invasion.
With the possible exception of the northern portion of the Colorado Plateau, fire was historically much more frequent than it is currently the case across the central Intermountain region (Utah and eastern Nevada).
This is the third and final national report of the three-phased National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy development. The report provides a comprehensive, science-based cohesive strategy to address the significant wildfire challenges facing the Nation.
Read about this incident and lessons learned from the Citidel fire, submitted by the Great Basin Smokejumpers.
This study was one of the first investigations to measure sense of community relative to wildland fire issues.
View the 2012 Great Basin Native Plant Selection and Increase Project Report.
A Special Report from the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University to the U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Wildland Fire.
This review synthesizes the state of knowledge on fire effects on vegetation and soils in semi-arid ecosystems in the Great Basin Region. We identify knowledge gaps and present a framework for predicting plant successional trajectories following wild and prescribed fires and fire surrogate treatments. Possibly the three most important ecological site characteristics that influence a site’s resilience (ability of the ecological site to recover from disturbance) and resistance to invasive species are soil temperature/moisture regimes and the composition and structure of vegetation on the ecological site just prior to the disturbance event.
This guide describes the benefits, opportunities, and trade-offs concerning fuel treatments in the dry mixed conifer forests of northern California and the Klamath Mountains, Pacific Northwest Interior, northern and central Rocky Mountains, and Utah.
Nov 9, 2012
McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Olsen, Christine C. 2012. Research perspectives on the public and fire management: a synthesis of current social science on eight essential questions. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-104. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 40 p.
Nate Stephenson on the conversion of forest ecosystems due to climate change and altered fire regimes.
This 2010 paper predicts moderately more frequent drought for the Great Basin.
A new JFSP synthesis that describes the framework of how fire and climate change work together to affect forest and fish communities.
Current and likely responses of species and habitats to climate change are examined in relation to taxonomic group and ecoregion and with regard to other disturbances. The volume ends with a review of management decision support needs and tools for assessing vulnerability of natural resources and conserving and restoring ecosystems that are or may be impacted by climate change.
2011. Stuart P. Hardegree, Thomas A. Jones, Bruce A. Roundy, Nancy L. Shaw, and Thomas A. Monaco. Chapter 4, In. D.D. Briske (ed.). Conservation Benefits of Rangeland Practices: Assessment, Recommendations, and Knowledge Gaps. Allen Press, Lawrence KS. pp 171-212.
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A recent paper co-authored by USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station researcher Dr. Chris Fettig and scientists from six universities in the U.S. and Australia shows that fuels treatments can be implemented with few unintended consequences.
Data have been released that accompany the report “Range-Wide Assessment of Livestock Grazing across the Sagebrush Biome.”
This Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA) evaluates the potential risks to the environment that would result from the use of the herbicide imazapic, including risks to rare, threatened, and endangered (RTE) plant and animal species.
A new technical advance in fuel break and green strip production is to apply Plateau® or Journey® herbicide, to control annual grass growth and encourage growth of desirable fire retardant vegetation after brush or tree removal.
Resource managers at the nation’s 155 national forests now have a set of science-based guidelines to help them manage landscapes for resilience to climate change, and this guidebook is now available both electronically and in hard copy.
This report is intended to introduce policy makers and citizens to issues related to wildfire management and fuel treatments on Idaho’s rangelands.
The rangeland literature synthesis provides an unprecedented source of evidence-based information to guide the development and assessment of management practices and conservation programs on the nation’s rangelands.
This report provides managers with the current state of knowledge regarding the effectiveness of fuel treatments for mitigating severe wildfire effects. A literature review examines the effectiveness of fuel treatments that had been previously applied and were subsequently burned through by wildfire in forests and rangelands.
Thirty-eight federal, state, university, and nongovernmental experts have collaborated to produce new scientific information about Greater Sage-Grouse populations, sagebrush habitats, and relationships among sage-grouse, sagebrush habitats, and land use.
Vegetation change and anthropogenic development are altering ecosystems and decreasing biodiversity. Successful management of ecosystems threatened by multiple stressors requires development of ecosystem conservation plans rather than single species plans. We selected the big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata Nutt.) ecosystem to demonstrate this approach.
This document synthesizes existing knowledge on wildlife responses to fire and fire surrogate treatments presented in a management-relevant format.
Most species in ecosystems that evolved with fire appear to be resilient to one or few out-of-season prescribed burn(s). However, a variable fire regime including prescribed burns at different times of the year may alleviate the potential for undesired changes and maximize biodiversity.
This synthesis will provide guidance for defining long-term goals, setting management priorities, and developing management plans and strategies related to western juniper.