Fuels & Fuel Treatments

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2022 Society for Range Management (SRM)’s 75th Annual Meeting

Meeting website.

Join us in the heart of New Mexico for the 75th Annual SRM Meeting. The beautiful high desert rangelands, diverse cultures, authentic art, and painted skies of Albuquerque will make for a great meeting.

Rx Fire in shortgrass prairie

Shortgrass Prescribed Burning Workshop

Workshop registration.

Shortgrass prescribed burning – principles and practice.
About this event
Are you curious about using prescribed burning in shortgrass rangelands, but not sure if it’s safe, effective, and needed? Join us in learning about prescribed burning in the shortgrass prairie. Specialists will host an indoor workshop on November 4, 2021 in the multipurpose room of the Mosquero Municipal School in Mosquero, New Mexico.

Included in the November 4 workshop will be:

  • reasons for burning
  • special considerations for shortgrass prairie
  • what to expect after a burn
  • how long burn effects will last
  • regulations affecting prescribed burning
  • weather conditions needed
  • formulating a burn plan
  • techniques for achieving the burn you want

A supplemental hands-on field day will be held at the Ute Creek Cattle Company ranch, where participants will have a chance to apply prescribed burn techniques. This unique opportunity will be scheduled between March and (or?) May 2022 as dictated by weather conditions. Participation in hands-on burning at the ranch is optional. Participants will be contacted directly via email with as much notice as possible, but frequently this amounts to 24-48 hours advanced notice.

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Planning for future fire: Accelerated fuel reduction for the western US 

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We used a sample of 30 future fire seasons to understand how the plan might be impacted by wildfires and treatment. We found that once fully implemented more than 20% of simulated fires on national forests overlapped fuel treatments, and that roughly 20% of the projects were burned prior to their implementation, suggesting that any plan will undergo significant revision during implementation. Treated areas intersected by wildfire accounted for twice the exposure than non-treated areas that also burned. The study demonstrates the use of scenario planning to design a fuel treatment program that targets wildfire exposure to developed areas, and the methods pave the way for expanded use of scenario planning science to analyze and communicate large scale expansion of current forest and fuel management initiatives.

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Land surface phenology reveals differences in peak and season-long vegetation productivity responses to climate and management

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We first analyzed interannual trends in six phenological measures as a baseline. We then demonstrated how including annual-resolution predictors can provide more nuanced insights into measures of phenology between plant communities and across the ecoregion. Across the study area, higher annual precipitation increased both peak and season-long productivity. In contrast, higher mean annual temperatures tended to increase peak productivity but for the majority of the study area decreased season-long productivity. Annual precipitation and temperature had strong explanatory power for productivity-related phenology measures but predicted date-based measures poorly. We found that relationships between climate and phenology varied across the region and among plant communities and that factors such as recovery from disturbance and anthropogenic management also contributed in certain regions. In sum, phenological measures did not respond ubiquitously nor covary in their responses. Nonclimatic dynamics can decouple phenology from climate; therefore, analyses including only interannual trends should not assume climate alone drives patterns.

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Can landscape fuel treatments enhance both protection and resource management objective?

Webinar registration.

Land management agencies in the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture can potentially accomplish ecological resource management objectives using unplanned wildfires, but only if such fires do not otherwise threaten to damage valuable resources and assets. Landscape-scale fuel treatments have been proposed as a strategy for mitigating the threat of wildfire to resources and assets. But what is the best way to implement landscape-scale fuel management? Is there a single fuel treatment implementation scheme that can both provide protection to communities, and simultaneously increase the opportunities for using wildfire to accomplish resource management objectives?

This webinar presents results from a simulation study of north-central New Mexico that investigated the relative effectiveness of a variety of fuel treatment strategies and the tradeoffs of implementing fuels programs with competing management goals.

 

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Putting LANDFIRE data and models to work in the scientific community

Webinar registration.

Members of the LANDFIRE Team will bring you a timely, relevant and succinct webinar describing three different applications of LANDFIRE data in published scientific literature from 2021. Our talk will start with a “30K foot view” of how LANDFIRE data is (generally) used by students, academics and agencies. We will then spotlight three example scientific papers each with a unique focus on drought, fire and climate change. We will highlight general findings, and touch on the LANDFIRE datasets, applications used for each journal article.

Papers we will discuss:
1. Drought Sensitivity and Trends of Riparian Vegetation Vigor in Nevada, USA (1985–2018) | Albano, Christina, McGwire, K.C., Hausner, M.B., McEvoy, D.J., Morton, C.G., Huntington, J.L. (LANDFIRE Existing Vegetation Type classification used)
2. The Importance of Small Fires for Wildfire Hazard in Urbanized Landscapes of the Northeastern US | Carlson, Amanda R., Sebasky, M.E., Peters, M.P, Radeloff, V.C (LANDFIRE Fuels products used)
3. Modelling Species Distributions and Environmental Suitability Highlights Risk of Plant Invasions in Western US | McMahon, Devin, E., Urza, A.K., Brown, J.L., Phelan, C., Chambers, J.C. (LANDFIRE Reference Database used)

There will be 15 minutes at the end of this discussion for Q/A. Bring your questions – we’ll see you there.

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Working lands, working communities initiative.

Webinar registration.

Western Governors’ Association Chair and Idaho Governor, Brad Little, with invited guests, will announce WGA’s new Chair initiative, Working Lands, Working Communities, during a webinar at 11 a.m. MDT on Wednesday, September 1. The initiative will examine the interdependent relationships between western communities and state and federal land / resource management entities, and the role that local communities play in successful land planning and management processes.

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The Green Glacier: What is conifer encroachment and why is it bad?

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Extensive research shows us that native conifer trees, primarily juniper and pinyon pine, but also other conifers, have been increasing their footprint on the landscape at an unprecedented rate over the last 150 years or so, especially in places like the Great Basin. This is part of a global phenomenon of trees encroaching into and replacing adjacent grasslands and shrublands.

Some of that change is expansion in the traditional sense, that is, trees moving from higher elevations or fuel-limited sites protected from fire where they historically existed into areas where they never grew before. But much of the change is what we call ‘infill,’ which is what happens after trees colonize and continue to populate previously tree-less landscapes, turning them from sagebrush or grasslands with just a few trees per acre into closed-canopy woodlands – what you might think of as a forest.

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Fuels treatments ease fire behavior in Pack Creek – A story map

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The Pack Creek Wildfire, ignited by an abandoned campfire, started early in the fire season on June 9, 2021 in the Pack Creek Day Use Area on the Manti-La Sal National Forest.

Under the influence of down-slope, down-canyon winds, the fire made a push west and down Pack Creek. The fire quickly exploded as a crown fire through a riparian area composed largely of cottonwood trees and pinyon and juniper landscapes. Within the community, fuel breaks implemented by Forestry, Fire and State Lands (State of Utah, FFSL) were designed to act as intermittent catch points for firefighters to actively engage the fire.

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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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Read workshop summary.

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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