Research and Publications

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Personalized risk information and social comparisons on information-seeking behavior in the WUI

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The effect of providing parcel-specific information depends on baseline conditions: Informing homeowners about their property’s wildfire risk increases information-seeking among homeowners of the highest-risk parcels by about 5 percentage points and reduces information-seeking among homeowners of lower-risk parcels by about 6 percentage points. Parcel-specific information also increases the overall response in the lowest risk communities by more than 10 percentage points.

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Housing and vegetation factors associated with home survival in 2018 Camp Fire, CA

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Strong associations between both distance to nearest destroyed structure and vegetation within 100 m and home survival in the Camp Fire indicate building and vegetation modifications are possible that would substantially improve outcomes. Among those include improvements to windows and siding in closest proximity to neighboring structures, treatment of wildland fuels, and eliminating near-home combustibles, especially in areas closest to the home (0–1.5 m).

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Assessing the role of short-term weather forecasts in fire manager tactical decision-making

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Respondents were less confident in the accuracy of wind and precipitation forecasts than relative humidity or weather forecasts more generally. The influence of weather information on the decision depended on the framing used in the choice experiment; specifically, whether respondents were told the initial strategy had been to directly or indirectly attack the fire. Across conditions, fire managers generally preferred to indirectly attack the fire. Decisions about the tactics to apply going forward were more sensitive to time in season when the fire was occurring and wind and precipitation forecasts than to other attributes.

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Vegetation dynamics models: Comprehensive set for natural resource assessment and planning in the US

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These products establish the first comprehensive national baseline for measuring vegetation change in the USA, providing land managers and policymakers with a tool to support vegetation restoration and fuel management activities at regional to national scales. Users have applied these products to support a variety of land management needs including exploring ecosystem dynamics, assessing current and desired conditions, and simulating the effects of management actions. In an era of rapid ecological change, these products provide land managers with an adaptable tool for understanding ecosystems and predicting possible future conditions.

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Long-term seeding outcomes in slash piles and skid trails after conifer removal

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Using two designed experiments from a central Oregon juniper woodland, we resampled slash piles and skid trails 8 years after seeding. Our objectives were to assess the long-term vegetation response to conifer removal, ground disturbance, and seeding source (cultivar and local) in slash piles and skid trails. We found that seeded species persisted in the long term, but abundance patterns depended on the species, seed source, and the type of disturbance. In general, there were more robust patterns of persistence after pile burning compared to skid trails. Seeding also suppressed exotic grass cover in the long term, particularly for the local seed source. However, the invasion levels we report are still problematic and may have impacts on biodiversity, forage and fire behavior. Our short-term results were not predictive of longer-term outcomes, but short- and long-term patterns were somewhat predictable based on species life history traits and ecological succession. The use of a mix of species with different life history traits may contribute to seeding success in terms of exotic grass suppression. Lastly, our results suggest that locally adapted seed sources may perform as well or better compared to cultivars. However, more aggressive weed treatments before and after conifer removal activities and wider seeding application may be needed to effectively treat exotic grass populations.

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Resist-Accept-Direct Framework to respond to changing ecosystems

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A new Special Section in the journal BioScience provides an in-depth exposition of the Resist-Accept-Direct framework, a new approach to guide natural resource decision making. Articles in the Special Section explore the practical application of the framework, compatibility of existing tools, social barriers and opportunities, and future science needs.

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Elevational ascent and spread of exotic annual grass dominance in the Great Basin

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More than a century after first appearing in the region, exotic annual grasses continue to proliferate and establish dominance in new environments across the Great Basin. Accelerated, strategic intervention is critically needed to conserve vulnerable sagebrush and salt desert shrub communities not yet heavily invaded. In this era of warming, future climate provides important context for selecting from among alternative management actions and judging long-term prospects of success.

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Characterizing ecoregions and montane perennial watersheds of the Great Basin

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Multiple research and management partners collaboratively developed a multiscale approach for assessing the geomorphic sensitivity of streams and ecological resilience of riparian and meadow ecosystems in upland watersheds of the Great Basin to disturbances and management actions. The approach builds on long-term work by the partners on the responses of these systems to disturbances and management actions. At the core of the assessments is information on past and present watershed and stream channel characteristics, geomorphic and hydrologic processes, and riparian and meadow vegetation. In this report, we describe the approach used to delineate Great Basin mountain ranges and the watersheds within them, and the data that are available for the individual watersheds. It also describes the resulting database and the data sources. Furthermore, it summarizes information on the characteristics of the regions and watersheds within the regions and the implications of the assessments for geomorphic sensitivity and ecological resilience. The target audience for this multiscale approach is managers and stakeholders interested in assessing and adaptively managing Great Basin stream systems and riparian and meadow ecosystems.

 

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Geomorphic sensitivity and ecological resilience of Great Basin streams and riparian ecosystems

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A new USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain General Technical Report on geomorphic sensitivity and ecological resilience of Great Basin streams and riparian ecosystems is now available. It provides the information needed to evaluate the sensitivity and resilience of Great Basin watersheds based on the characteristics of the streams and riparian ecosystems, determine how they are likely to respond to disturbance and management actions, and prioritize areas for conservation and restoration actions.

A website has been developed that provides an overview of GTR-426 and has downloadable, autofill forms for implementing the assessment.

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In-depth treatment of the Resist-Accept-Direct Framework

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A Special Section in the journal BioScience provides an in-depth exposition of the Resist-Accept-Direct framework, a new approach to guide natural resource decision making. Articles in the Special Section explore the practical application of the framework, compatibility of existing tools, social barriers and opportunities, and future science needs.

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