Case Study

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Network governance in the use of prescribed fire

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We conducted 53 interviews across four case studies in the western United States where federal land management agencies and cooperative actors are working together to accelerate the implementation of prescribed fire to understand the range of actors and associated roles they play. We found that interviewees identified 67 different organizations spanning local to national scales that played a variety of roles to support prescribed fire implementation, mainly communications, prescribed burn labor, fundraising, burning expertise, and burning on neighboring lands. Many actors did not serve in intentional bridging roles, but they filled key roles in the governance networks necessary to implement prescribed fire.

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Local social fragmentation and its potential effects on adapting to wildfire

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The case study research presented in this article evaluates social characteristics present in a WUI community that faces extreme wildfire risk to both people and property. It explores social processes that impede the ability of community members to work together collectively to solve problems (e.g., wildfire risk) and offers an alternative perspective about the nature of residency status (i.e., full-time and non-full-time) and its role in influencing wildfire mitigation efforts.

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Exploring the use of ecosystem services conceptual models to account for the benefits of public lands

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This study describes an approach for identifying and monitoring the types of resource benefits and tradeoffs considered in National Forest planning in the United States under the 2012 Planning Rule and demonstrates the use of tools for conceptualizing the production of ecosystem services and benefits from alternative land management strategies. Efforts to apply these tools through workshops and engagement exercises provide opportunities to explore and highlight measures, indicators, and data sources for characterizing benefits and tradeoffs in collaborative environments involving interdisciplinary planning teams. Conceptual modeling tools are applied to a case study examining the social and economic benefits of recreation on the Ashley National Forest.

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Wildfire and climate change adaptation of western US forests: A case for intentional management

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Hagmann et al. (in press) review a century of observations and multi-scale, multi-proxy research evidence that details widespread changes in forested landscapes and wildfire regimes since the influx of European colonists. Over the preceding 10 millennia, large areas of wNA were already settled and proactively managed with intentional burning by Indigenous tribes. Prichard et al. (in press) then review the research on management practices historically applied by Indigenous tribes and currently applied by some managers to intentionally manage forests for resilient conditions. They address ten questions surrounding the application and relevance of these management practices. Here, we highlight the main findings of both papers and offer recommendations for management. We discuss progress paralysis that often occurs with strict adherence to the precautionary principle; offer insights for dealing with the common problem of irreducible uncertainty and suggestions for reframing management and policy direction; and identify key knowledge gaps and research needs.

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Beyond planning tools: Experiential learning in climate adaptation planning and practices

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Here, we describe a training approach that we developed to help managers effectively plan to execute intentional, climate-informed actions. This training approach was developed through the Climate Change Response Framework (CCRF) and uses active and focused work time and peer-to-peer interaction to overcome observed barriers to using adaptation planning tools. We evaluate the effectiveness of this approach by examining participant evaluations and outlining the progress of natural resources projects that have participated in our trainings. We outline a case study that describes how this training approach can lead to place and context-based climate-informed action. Finally, we describe best practices based on our experience for engaging natural resources professionals and helping them increase their comfort with climate-informed planning.

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Synthesizing and analyzing long-term monitoring data: A greater sage-grouse case study

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Highlights:

  • Automated and repeatable method to improve scientific integrity of long-term data
  • Analyzed long-term data to improve monitoring policies and efforts
  • Increased collaborations between federal and state agencies to improve data quality
  • Recommendations for managing existing and new long-term monitoring data
  • Spatiotemporal heatmap video of Greater sage-grouse counts across North American
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Effects of wildfire on collaborative management of rangelands: Soda fire case study

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Using interview data, we examined cross-boundary collaboration after the Soda Fire that burned approximately 113,312 ha (280,000 acres) of southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon. We found relationships established in other management contexts were activated by individuals within agencies to share funding and resources to rehabilitate the landscape after the Soda Fire. The fire’s spatial proximity to Boise, Idaho, and temporal proximity to important federal policy decisions were primary collaboration drivers. Barriers to collaborative efforts still exist; however, interviewees highlighted the importance of individual agency (bottom-up) changes in lessening top-down constraints.

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Monetising the savings of remotely sensed data and information in Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) wildfire assessment

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This study used a value of information approach to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of using satellite imagery as part of the Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER), a US federal program that identifies imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property and critical natural or cultural resources. It compared the costs associated with producing a Burn Area Reflectance Classification map and implementing a BAER when imagery from satellites (either Landsat or a commercial satellite) was available to when the response team relied on information collected solely by aerial reconnaissance. The case study included two evaluations with and without Burn Area Reflectance Classification products: (a) savings of up to US$51 000 for the Elk Complex wildfire incident request and (b) savings of a multi-incident map production program. Landsat is the most cost-effective way to input burn severity information into the BAER program, with savings of up to US$35 million over a 5-year period.

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Operationalizing concepts of resilience and resistance for at risk ecosystems

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A resilience-based approach to management can facilitate regional planning by guiding the allocation of management resources to where they will have optimal socioecological benefits. This type of approach requires a sound understanding of the environmental factors, ecosystem attributes and processes, and landscape components that influence ecological resilience of the focal system. Chambers et al. review and integrate resilience concepts to help inform natural resources management decisions for ecosystems and landscapes. They describe the six key components of a resilience-based approach, beginning with managing for adaptive capacity and selecting an appropriate spatial extent and grain. Additional components include developing an understanding of the factors influencing the general and ecological resilience of ecosystems and landscapes, the landscape context and spatial resilience, pattern and process interactions and their variability, and relationships among ecological and spatial resilience and the capacity to support habitats and species. They suggest that a spatially explicit approach that couples geospatial information on general and spatial resilience to disturbance with information on resources, habitats, or species provides the foundation for resilience-based management. A case study from the sagebrush biome is provided that is widely used by the management agencies.

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Modelling suppression difficulty: Current and future applications

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Improving decision processes and the informational basis upon which decisions are made in pursuit of safer and more effective fire response have become key priorities of the fire research community. One area of emphasis is bridging the gap between fire researchers and managers through development of application-focused, operationally relevant decision support tools. In this paper we focus on a family of such tools designed to characterise the difficulty of suppression operations by weighing suppression challenges against suppression opportunities. These tools integrate potential fire behaviour, vegetation cover types, topography, road and trail networks, existing fuel breaks and fireline production potential to map the operational effort necessary for fire suppression. We include case studies from two large fires in the USA and Spain to demonstrate model updates and improvements intended to better capture extreme fire behaviour and present results demonstrating successful fire containment where suppression difficulty index (SDI) values were low and containment only after a moderation of fire weather where SDI values were high. A basic aim of this work is reducing the uncertainty and increasing the efficiency of suppression operations through assessment of landscape conditions and incorporation of expert knowledge into planning.

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