Fire Ecology & Effects

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Effects of post-fire management on vegetation and fuels following successive wildfires in mixed conifer forests

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Results of our study suggest that post-fire vegetation structure and woody fuels play an important role in subsequent fire severity patterns and ultimately influence the resilience of post-fire landscapes to future fire. In areas where high-severity reburn is undesirable, managers should consider treatments that reduce the density and continuity of vegetation, standing snags, and large woody surface fuels. In areas where proactive reforestation
is necessary, planting in areas that are in rough or mesic terrain may reduce the likelihood of high-severity reburn. The results of our study also suggest that active post-fire management may be necessary in areas that have burned at low to moderate severity in order to maintain or promote the restorative benefits of an initial fire or to restore the dominance of fire resilient tree species.

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Life from the ashes: Exploring the impact of Rx and natural fire on insects and other invertebrates

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Register by 9/8 for early bird rate.

Life from the Ashes will explore the positive and negative impacts of prescribed and natural fire related to insects and other invertebrates in landscapes across North America. The symposium will provide research and practical insights to inform natural areas professionals as they manage landscapes with fire.

This program is provided in a collaboration between the Natural Areas Association (NAA) and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation (Xerces). NAA serves those dedicated to the management and restoration of biologically important natural areas in North America. Xerces is an international nonprofit organization that protects the natural world through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. Protecting nature requires reliable science to inform practices on-the-ground and a network of stewards who work tirelessly to protect, manage and restore land and water biodiversity.

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Basic fire facts- A story map from NW Fire Science Consortium

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This Fire Facts guide was created to provide basic wildfire information, background, terminology, and resources to increase your knowledge and understanding of wildland fire and the ways we can all contribute to better fire outcomes.

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Fire science and management in an uncertain future: Tools and approaches for managing fire in future climates in the SW

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Workshop purpose: Identify fire science and management needs and discuss tools and approaches to natural resource assessments and adaptation strategies for fire dynamics in future climates in Southwest (DOI Regions 8 & 10 [CA, NV, AZ]) bioregions.

Take-Aways:
Provide awareness of tools needed for decision-making in an uncertain future
Generate a list of new science actions to meet fire needs for practitioners/planners in future, non-analog landscapes and communities
Suggest how we might address and accomplish these identified needs going forward
Exchange Information
Make connections

This four-hour, virtual Summit was an abbreviated, rescheduled version of ‘Building Bridges and Solutions: Partners in Facing Fire-Science Challenges’ that was cancelled in April due to COVID-19. We assembled scientists and fire practitioners/leaders in an interagency effort to identify fire science and management needs and to discuss decision-making tools and approaches that address resource assessments and adaptation strategies for fire dynamics in future climates in the Southwest (Department of Interior [DOI] Regions 8 and 10 [CA, NV, AZ]). This overriding goal threaded together the Summit’s talks, Q&A, and break-out sessions. Speakers from various agencies, institutes, and academia focused on fire management and planning in future non-analog landscapes and climate-fire-ecosystem impact relationships in western forest (e.g., mixed-conifer, subalpine), desert (hot and cold, grassland, pinyon-juniper, sage-steppe), and Mediterranean/chaparral bioregions. Syntheses from talks, Mentimeter-conducted discussions, and break-out groups on management and actionable-science needs will be summarized in a white paper and posted on the Southwest, Great Basin, and California Fire Science Exchange websites. Let’s work together to address fire science and management in an uncertain future!

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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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Prescribed fire and fire suppression operations influence wildfire severity under severe weather in Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA

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This study found that prescribed fires and operations reduced tree basal area loss from the wildfire by an average of 32% and 22% respectively, and that severity was reduced by 72% in areas with both prescribed fire and operations. Our approach could be applied to other wildfires and regions to better understand the effects of fuel treatments and fire suppression operations on wildfire severity.

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Ecology, history, ecohydrology, and management of pinyon and juniper woodlands in the Great Basin

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This synthesis reviews current knowledge of pinyon and juniper ecosystems, in both persistent and newly expanded woodlands, for managers, researchers, and the interested public. We draw from a large volume of research papers to centralize information on these semiarid woodlands. The first section includes a general description of both the Great Basin and northern Colorado Plateau. The ecology section covers woodland and species life histories, biology, and ecology and includes a detailed discussion of climate and the potential consequences of climate change specific to the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau. The history section discusses 20,000 years of woodland dynamics and geographic differences among woodland disturbance regimes and resilience. The ecohydrology section discusses hydrologic processes in woodlands that influence soil conservation and loss; water capture, storage, and release; and the effect that woodland structure and composition have on these processes. The final section, restoration and management, covers the history of woodland management, the different methods used, the advantages and disadvantages of different vegetation treatments, and posttreatment vegetation responses. We also discuss successes and failures and key components that determine project outcomes important for consideration when restoring ecosystem function, integrity, and resilience.

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Prescribed fire shrub consumption in a Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forest

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Shrub cover in two experimental stands prior to burning was 38% and 59% and was 36% and 45% one-year post burn. In both stands shrub patch density increased, while area-weighted mean patch size and largest patch index decreased. Increased local percent cover of coarse woody material was associated with increased shrub consumption. These findings provide information for prescribed fire managers to help better anticipate shrub consumption and patchiness outcomes under similar conditions.

Webinar, video, audio icon

Restorative burning: Outcomes from the 2019 Caples fire

Webinar recording.

Description: The Caples Fire, which began on September 30, 2019, burned 3,435 total acres (1,080-acre prescribed fire and 2,355-acres wildfire) within the Caples Creek Watershed Restoration Project planning area. This webinar will discuss the outcomes of the 2019 Caples Fire, fire effects on legacy trees, fire management take-home messages, volunteer efforts for restoration within the Caples watershed, and avian research within the Caples restoration area.

Presenters: Becky Estes (Central Sierra Province Ecologist, USDA Forest Service): Overview of the Caples Restoration Project
Lester Lubetkin (Co-Led Volunteer Effort, California Native Plant Society): Using Volunteers to Prepare Legacy Treesfor Prescribed Fire
Travis Thane (District Fire Management Officer, USDA Forest Service): Caples Fire Management and Facilitated Learning Analysis
Scott Dailey (Fire Ecologist, USDA Forest Service): Ecological Effects in the Caples Fire (First Order Fire Effects)
Durrell Kapan (Senior Research Fellow, California Academy of Sciences): Avian Response to Ecological Restoration of Resilience in the Caples Creek Watershed

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Interagency Burn Severity Portal

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This interagency burn severity portal provides comprehensive access to federal burn severity data. Information about the various burn severity mapping programs and access to current and historical data products are provided.

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