Decision Support

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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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Application of the threat-based model framework in the BLM land health assessment and evaluation

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The threat-based model approach uses simplified ecosystem models to identify and map primary threats and determine potential management interventions. The study team found that the threat-based model supported the  findings from the BLM’s land health evaluation for the O’Keeffe allotment. The threat-based model approach offered another line of evidence in assessing upland standards. It also proved to be a valuable tool for  communicating with stakeholders, as it provided a spatial depiction of habitat condition and threats through maps and a framework to link threats to management actions. The BLM needs to further apply and study this methodology, but there is potential to use the threat-based model to streamline the land health evaluation process and provide a consistent assessment framework across public and private lands.

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Guiding principles for using satellite-derived maps in rangeland management

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Here, we advance the practice of using satellite-derived maps with four guiding principles designed to increase end user confidence and thereby accessibility of these data for decision-making.

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Science x socioeconomic dimensions of land management webinar series

Webinar recordings.

Monday, December 6: Forest and Rangeland Livelihoods
Leveraging demand for renewable energy and innovative bioproducts to facilitate forest restoration, presented by Nate Anderson
What happened to wood products markets in 2020 and 2021 in the United States?, presented by Jeff Prestemon
Managing wolves and livestock on national forests in the West, presented by Susan Charnley

Tuesday, December 7: Protecting Ecosystem Services
Human ecology mapping: Capturing diverse forest benefits and landscape interactions for use in planning and decision-making, presented by Lee Cerveny
What’s a canopy worth? Using i-Tree to understand the value of trees, presented by Alexis Ellis
Agroforestry: Tools for working across the landscape, presented by Gary Bentrup, Kate MacFarland, Matthew Smith, Richard Straight

Wednesday, December 8: Bounty Beneath Our Feet
Why is biochar so important?, presented by Debbie Page-Dumroese
Establishing pollinator habitat in log landings after timber sales begins with restoring the soil, presented by John Kabrick
Soil organic carbon, presented by Andy Coulter and Stephanie Connolly

Thursday, December 9: Urban Interfaces
A shared stewardship approach to wildland fire mitigation in Eastern Oklahoma, presented by Cassandra Johnson Gaither
Urban forestry, presented by Natalie van Doorn
Fire WUI urban communities, presented by Francisco Escobedo

Friday, December 10: Getting Outside
Managing winter recreation and sensitive species on Colorado’s public lands: Do humans and Canada lynx select the same habitat?, presented by Lucretia Olson
Considering the benefits of recreation in program reporting and decision-making, presented by Eric White
Latinix outdoor recreation, presented by Jose Sanchez

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Patterns of wildfire risk in the US as characterized by land managers

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In this study, patterns of wildfire risk were explored from operational relative risk assessments (RRA) completed by land managers on 5087 wildfires from 2010 to 2017 in every geographic area of the USA. The RRA is the formal risk assessment used by land managers to develop strategies on emerging wildfires when concerns and issues related to wildfire management are in real-time. Only 38% of these wildfires were rated as high risk and 28% had high ratings for values at risk. Large regional variations were evident, with the West Coast regions selecting high risk and the South-west and Eastern regions selecting low risk. There were finer-scale influences on perceived risk when summarized on a jurisdictional level. Finally, risk summarized by USA agencies showed that the National Park Service and USDA Forest Service selected high risk less frequently compared with other agencies. By illuminating patterns of risk, this research intends to stimulate examination of the social, cultural, and physiographic factors influencing conceptions of risk.

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Fireshed Registry: Fireshed and project area boundaries for the continental US

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The Fireshed Registry is a geospatial dashboard and decision tool built to organize information about wildfire transmission to communities and monitor progress towards risk reduction for communities from management investments. The concept behind the Fireshed Registry is to identify and map the source of risk rather than what is at risk across all lands in the continental United States. While the Fireshed Registry was organized around mapping the source of fire risk to communities, the framework does not preclude the assessment of other resource management priorities and trends such as water, fish and aquatic or wildlife habitat, or recreation. The Fireshed Registry is also a multi-scale decision tool for quantifying, prioritizing, and geospatially displaying wildfire transmission to buildings in adjacent or nearby communities.

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Risk Management Assistance (RMA) Dashboard

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The RMA Dashboard is a series of tabs to products to help line officers, agency administrators, fire managers, incident management teams, area commands, geographic area coordination centers, and multi-agency coordination groups to make more risk-informed decisions to achieve safer and improved outcomes. These additional analytics are not a replacement for locally-derived and calibrated decision thresholds or procedures as outlined in manual direction (e.g., the WFDSS Decision, Fire Danger Operating Plans). However, it is hoped that these new products can be infused into pre- and post-planning and incident response systems, procedures, and documentation, like the WFDSS Course of Action or Rationale.

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Fire-weather drivers of severity and spread: Learning from past fire patterns to inform future wildfire decision making

Webinar recording.

Fire is an essential component in restoring and maintaining a healthy forest. However, historic land use and decades of fire suppression has excluded fire from millions of forested hectares across much of the western United States, including the Grand Canyon National Park. Forest restoration at the Grand Canyon aims to reduce wildfire vulnerability by applying fire to diversify or remove forest vegetation. However, the cost, complexity, and concerns associated with managing fire for resource benefit requires that fire managers utilize and implement locally-relevant, science-based knowledge to strategically identify when and where to use fire to produce the greatest benefits. This research specifically addresses the National Park Service, Fire Management Leadership Board priority area of: Research that assists in removing stumbling blocks and hurdles for implementing fuels treatments and managing wildfires for resource objectives. We observed fire behavior in the Grand Canyon in conjunction with topographic variation and weather conditions to provide thresholds that affect fire severity and spread that may be beneficial or incompatible with multiple resource objectives. In doing so, we also developed customized tools that can be used to assist with fire management planning and quickly identifying conditions likely to affect fire behavior at Grand Canyon National Park.

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Thinking about adaptation: Exploring the Resist-Accept-Direct (RAD) framework

Webinar recording.

Ecosystems are transforming under climate change, with substantial shifts in ecological processes and important ecosystem services occurring at unprecedented rates. As systems approach socio-economic and ecological thresholds, our current management toolbox has proved to be incomplete for conservation and the sustainable provision of ecosystem services, including fisheries production and the wildlife habitat. Multiple approaches are therefore needed to address the varying uncertainties we face in this increasingly non-stationary world. Managers navigating ecosystem transformation can benefit from considering broader objectives beyond a traditional focus on resisting ecosystem change, by also considering whether accepting change or directing it along a preferred pathway might be more appropriate (RAD framework).

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Challenges to determining and demonstrating efficiency of large fire management- A review

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Characterising the impacts of wildland fire and fire suppression is critical information for fire management decision-making. Here, we focus on decisions related to the rare larger and longer-duration fire events, where the scope and scale of decision-making can be far broader than initial response efforts, and where determining and demonstrating efficiency of strategies and actions can be particularly troublesome. We organize our review around key decision factors such as context, complexity, alternatives, consequences and uncertainty, and for illustration contrast fire management in Andalusia, Spain, and Montana, USA. Two of the largest knowledge gaps relate to quantifying fire impacts to ecosystem services, and modelling relationships between fire management activities and avoided damages. The relative magnitude of these and other concerns varies with the complexity of the socioecological context in which fire management decisions are made. To conclude our review, we examine topics for future research, including expanded use of the economics toolkit to better characterize the productivity and effectiveness of suppression actions, integration of ecosystem modelling with economic principles, and stronger adoption of risk and decision analysis within fire management decision-making.

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