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
RESEARCH & PUBLICATIONS
Adaptation strategies for rangeland vegetation focus on increasing resilience of rangeland ecosystems, primarily through non-native species control and prevention.
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.
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.
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:
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:
This report outlines the launch year of the Initiative and includes both administrative and legislative recommendations.
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 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.
Within big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) communities, expansion of invasive plants and changes in wildfire patterns have emerged as the greatest threat to sage-grouse habitats, particularly in the western part of its range.
The report outlines immediate actions to address the threat of rangeland fire in the Great Basin region, prior to the onset of the 2015 Western wildfire season. The report also identifies several related actions and activities to begin in 2015, with full implementation in 2016 and beyond.
"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 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.
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.
View the 2012 Great Basin Native Plant Selection and Increase Project Report.
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.
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.
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.
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 regional Fire Exchange is one of 15 regional fire science exchanges sponsored by Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP).