Join the Rocky Mountain Research Station and the Southwest Ecological Restoration Institutes for an upcoming land manager-focused LIGHTNING TALK webinar dedicated to forest regeneration and reforestation in western fire-adapted forests. Short science presentations will highlight what is happening with regeneration following fire and forest treatments plus considerations and tools for reforestation. Discussion and Q&A during this session will facilitate information exchange between scientists and managers.
Invasive annual grasses pose ecological and economic challenges for invasive species managers and agricultural producers across the West. On this Working Lands, Working Communities Initiative webinar, speakers will examine management tools and strategies to effectively manage cheatgrass, medusahead, and ventenata.
Description: In the southwestern US humans and ecosystems share a history of fire. Here, contemporary ecological patterns and processes that are thought to be natural may be highly influenced by past human land use legacies, at millennial time scales. The Jemez Mountains of central New Mexico provide a landscape laboratory rich in archaeological, ethnographic, and ecological data sets, within which to study the reciprocal, long-term interactions of humans and fire. Evidence from tree-rings, fire scars, and charcoal sediments suggests that prior to the 20th century, southwestern pine forests sustained frequent, low-severity surface fires. During a period of dense occupation in the 13th and 14th centuries, land and resource use may have significantly influenced forest structure, fuel properties, ignitions, and landscape fire dynamics. We developed complex spatial models, informed by rich archaeological, ethnographic, and dendroarchaeological data sets, to examine how plausible scenarios of human activities influenced forests and fire regimes ca. 1200-1900 CE. We found that prehistoric populations influenced forest and fire patterns at broad spatial scales, with feedbacks that maintained ecological resilience. Our results highlight the complexity and extent of long-term human-environment interactions and can be used as a comparative framework within which to evaluate the significance of contemporary and predicted anthropogenic impacts on landscapes and ecosystems.
Presenter: Rachel Loehman is a landscape and fire ecologist with the US Geological Survey. Her research focuses on the role of natural and anthropogenic disturbances in shaping ecological patterns and processes. Her current research projects include developing strategies for enhancing ecosystem and forest resilience to changing climate and disturbance regimes (western U.S.) and monitoring and modeling fire impacts to archaeological resources (southwestern U.S.).
Presenter: Sarah McCaffrey
Description: Fire management in the United States is currently facing numerous challenges. While many of these challenges involve questions about how to increase pace and scale of fuels treatments and adapt to longer, sometimes year-round, fire seasons and more frequent extreme fires, there is also a need to adapt wildfire communication efforts to changing fire management needs and practices. This presentation will discuss insights from two decades of fire social science research about a range of topics to consider in improving wildfire communication including issues with conflation of language (prevention is not mitigation), when more rather than less complex explanations may be merited, and the need to account for how fire fits in everyday lives. The presentation will draw from general Communication, Natural Hazards, and Risk Communication theory, as well as specific fire social science research findings, about topics and approaches that are more or less likely to resonate with the public.
Over the past decade, government policies and programs to incentivize “all-lands approaches” to reducing wildfire risk have emerged that call for collective action among diverse public, private, and Tribal landowners who share fire-prone landscapes. This presentation draws on research from Oregon and California to offer insights into what collective action looks like, when it is desirable, and how to promote it to increase the resilience of fire-prone forests.
Description: Effects of juniper encroachment and removal on multiple wildlife species in the Steens Mountains area and quantifying effects of grazing on sagebrush ecosystems and associated wildlife.
Presenter: Vanessa Schroeder is a faculty research assistant at Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center-Burns, which is in the heart of Oregons’s sagebrush country. She holds a master’s degree in Wildlife Science from OSU.
Description: Agricultural seed production is needed to meet ambitious restoration goals, which will require more seeds than can be harvested from wild populations. However, there may be direct conflicts between traits that are favorable in conventional agriculture and those that are adaptive in restoration settings, which could have long-lasting impacts on restored communities. Here, we review some of these evolutionary and ecological conflicts and suggest research directions needed to meld the needs of agriculturalists and restoration practitioners. Partnerships between ecologists, engineers, breeders, and growers are essential to develop best practices for providing seeds for successful native species restoration.
Alison Agneray has ten years of experience executing long-range research and monitoring programs across the Western United States. She is currently a PhD candidate working with Dr. Beth Leger at the University of Nevada Reno to optimize seed mixes used to restore degraded habitats in North America’s Great Basin Desert.
Owen Baughman is a Restoration Scientist with The Nature Conservancy of Oregon, USA, and has worked to understand, test, and/or demonstrate new and innovative approaches to native plant restoration in North America’s sagebrush steppe. He earned an MS in Plant Ecology in 2014 from the University of Nevada Reno, and a BS in Ecology and Conservation Biology in 2010 from the University of Idaho.
Presented by: Kathy Zeller
Restoring forest health and resilience are high priorities for forest managers. However, in the face of various stressors like disturbance and climate change, there are many uncertainties regarding the effectiveness of forest management strategies. In an attempt to reduce this uncertainty, vegetative change in the Tahoe Central Sierra Mountains has been simulated over a 40-year time period with a spatially explicit disturbance-succession model. Different management strategy scenarios (area treated and frequency of treatment) and disturbances (fire and insect-caused tree mortality) were modeled under an RCP 8.5 emissions scenario. We evaluated how a suite of terrestrial wildlife species respond to this landscape under different management strategies, both in terms of habitat suitability and connectivity. These results will reduce some of the uncertainty around forest management decisions by informing how different management scenarios might affect biodiversity in the study area under a changing climate.
Presented by: Travis Warziniack
Though National Forests are required to address ecosystem services and human benefits in planning and management decisions, most have limited capacity to meet those requirements. New tools are helping forests more easily identify impacts to ecosystem services and communicate their role in providing benefits to stakeholders. Moving toward nationally consistent methods will allow forests to more easily assess their ecosystem services, with the flexibility of adding local knowledge when needed.