Post-fire Environment & Management

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Victims or survivors? The cost of culture in fire recovery

Webinar recording (1:00:03).

As fire disasters in California increase in severity and frequency, the costs accumulate for federal, state, and local governments, insurers, residents, and communities. While the costs of wildfires are difficult to quantify, the 2018 Carr fire in Shasta County, CA resulted in costly evacuations of approximately 38,000 people, the ecosystem loss of 229,651 acres, destruction of 1,077 homes and the generational equity represented therein, $162 million in firefighting costs, and an estimated $1.6 billion in damages. At the time, this was the sixth largest fire in California history and necessitated a coordinated recovery response by government agencies and nongovernmental groups. This seminar presentation draws on extensive qualitative data – 134 in-depth interviews and six months of ethnographic observation with Carr fire recovery organizations – to document mechanisms by which the costs of this disaster are borne unequally by residents. I demonstrate how local and visiting aid workers’ normative assumptions about legitimate victimhood structure survivors’ access to resources and produce inequalities in disaster recovery. I conclude with a discussion of how gender, race, and age intersect with socioeconomic class in the production of disaster recovery inequalities. As climate disasters become increasingly prevalent worldwide, it is imperative that ecologists, fire management agencies, social service providers, health professionals, and social scientists study the processes that produce unequal disaster recovery outcomes and propose interventions that can mitigate these disparities.

Presenter: Rebecca Ewert is an Assistant Professor of Instruction in Sociology at Northwestern University. Her research interests include mental health, disasters, culture, inequality, and qualitative methods. Her work explores how people of different social groups (classes, genders, ages, and races) recover economically, socially, and emotionally from disasters. More about her work can be found on her website: www.rebeccaewert.com.

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Rebuilding resiliency in a fire-ravaged landscape: South-central OR integrated post-fire resiliency strategy

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Public and private landowners have come together to lay out a path for recovery. Major partners in the region are uniting behind a groundbreaking cross-jurisdictional approach to restore resilient forests in Oregon’s Klamath and Lake counties. The resulting strategy has become a national blueprint for post-wildfire recovery.

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Post-wildfire recovery through the principles of engineering with nature

Webinar recording.

The Santa Clara Canyon in northern New Mexico suffered near total scorching during the Las Conchas Wildfire, a burn which drastically changed the environment and sediment stability of the canyon. After the fire, a 1% chance rain event exhibited a 400% increase in peak flow conditions when compared to pre-fire conditions due to extreme vegetation loss and subsequent soil instability. Since 2011, the Santa Clara Pueblo, Forestry Department has worked with partners to reduce flood hazard in the Pueblo by implementing Engineering with Nature principles: levee improvements, post-fire debris removal, integrating fish passage into the dams, contour felling on steep slopes, and constructing log and boulder structures to stabilize drainages and mitigate sediment transport and deposition.
Managing wildfire recovery efforts by applying Engineering With Nature-Natural and Nature-Based Features (EWN-NNBF) principles has the potential to provide a wide range of Flood Risk Management (FRM) benefits to rural and urban settings while increasing co-benefits for the entire watershed. Co-benefits include economic, social, archeological, aesthetic, recreational and biological functioning habitat enhancements. In this webinar, the presenter will discuss experiences gained and lessons learned that can be transferred to other areas within the Western US that experience wildfires and require FRM guidance on wildfire recovery methods.

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Spatial patterns and controls on wind erosion in the Great Basin

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The Great Basin of the western United States is experiencing dramatic increases in wildfire and Bromus species invasion that potentially accelerate wind erosion and plant community change. We used a wind erosion model parameterized for rangelands and standard ecological monitoring data sets collected at 10,779 locations from 2011 to 2019 to characterize potential wind erosion in the Great Basin, assess relationships between factors affecting wind erosion, and quantify effects of wildfire and invasive Bromus species on aeolian horizontal sediment flux, Q. There were 403 monitoring plots (∼3.7% of plots) with Q > 100 g m⁻¹ d⁻¹. Median values for the highest Q category (>100) ranged from 196.5 to 308.5 g m⁻¹ d⁻¹. Locations with Q > 100 g m⁻¹ d⁻¹ were associated with dry, low elevation areas of the Great Basin with low perennial grass and perennial forb cover, and with large bare gaps between plants. Areas with high perennial grass, perennial forb, and shrub cover had small Q (≤10 g m⁻¹ d⁻¹). Substantial wind erosion was predicted in areas that have experienced wildfires, but areas with multiple wildfires had a lower predicted probability of Q particularly as invasive Bromus species cover increased. Modeled Q was up to two orders of magnitude higher post‐wildfire (median 44.2 g m⁻¹ d⁻¹) than in intact or annual grass‐invaded regions of the Great Basin (median 0.4 g m⁻¹ d⁻¹). Our results reveal the complex interplay among plant community composition, wildfire, and the amount of bare ground controlling wind erosion on Great Basin rangelands.

NAFEW 2024 web capture

14th North American Forest Ecology Workshop

Workshop website.

The 14th North American Forest Ecology Workshop (NAFEW) will take place June 24 – 27, 2024 in Asheville, NC

The format of the meeting will be different from past years, as we will kick off the meeting with all day field trips on Monday followed by a plenary talk in the evening. Sessions will be offered all day Tuesday, half day Wednesday, and all day Thursday. Local field trips will be offered Wednesday afternoon and workshops will occur throughout the week. A banquet is planned for Tuesday evening.

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Grazing intensity effects on herbaceous community composition in burned sagebrush steppe

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This study evaluated vegetation response to different intensities of deferred rotation cattle grazing over 16 years (2007–2022) on burned Wyoming big sagebrush steppe in eastern Oregon. Treatments were applied in a randomized complete block, which included no grazing on burned (nonuse, n = 5) and unburned (control, n = 5) steppe; and cattle grazing at low (low, n = 4), moderate (moderate, n = 4), and high (high, n = 4) intensities on burned steppe. Vegetation dynamics were evaluated by repeated measures analysis of canopy cover and density of shrub and herbaceous species and functional groups. Herbaceous functional groups were an early-season bunchgrass (one species, Sandberg bluegrass), tall perennial bunchgrasses, perennial forbs, annual grass (one species, cheatgrass), and annual forbs. Tall perennial bunchgrass, Sandberg bluegrass, and perennial forb cover and density did not differ among the treatments but did decrease over time in all treatments. The cover of several tall bunchgrass species was generally less in the high treatment, mainly, Idaho fescue and Thurber’s needlegrass. The cover of cheatgrass and annual forbs varied among years but was greater in the burned-grazed and nonuse treatments than in the control. Native plant cover in the burned treatments (grazed and nonuse) represented 77%–85% of total herbaceous cover versus the control where native plants comprised 91% of the total. Annual weather variability appears to account for most of the compositional dynamics measured in the various grazed and ungrazed treatments.

 

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Post-fire field guide: Create and use post-fire soil burn severity maps

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For nearly 12 years, the Field Guide for Mapping Post-Fire Soil Burn Severity has provided BAER teams with consistent methodologies, tools, and terminology to quickly and accurately identify postfire conditions. RMRS Research Engineer Pete Robichaud and colleagues created the field guide, which is now available in Spanish.

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Public experience with wildfire and flooding: Case study of 2019 Museum Fire

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Like many communities across the western United States, the greater Flagstaff area in northern Arizona has experienced multiple wildfires in recent years that have resulted in postfire flooding. The 2019 Museum Fire provides a case study for better understanding how the cascading disturbances of wildfire and postfire flooding, which can be further compounded by adjacent disturbances  like monsoon-related flooding, impacted Flagstaff residents, and how they were informed of, perceive, and respond to these risks. In 2022, we conducted a survey in Flagstaff after 2021 flooding associated with the Museum Fire burn scar and monsoonal events to better understand attitudes “before” and “after” flooding. This resulted in findings in eight thematic areas: 1) respondent demographics; 2) geographic distribution of respondents in 2022; 3) experiences with recent flooding events; 4) communication during flood events; 4) flood risk perceptions; 6) flood insurance coverage; 7) mitigating flood risk; and 8) managing flood risk, wildfires, and forest management. This work builds upon a survey we completed in 2019 immediately following the Museum Fire that evaluated respondents’ experience with the fire and evacuation, communication of fire emergency information, and opinions regarding forest management.

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USGS Sagebrush and Fire Research Webinar Series

What: USGS will host 7 webinars focusing on updates to sagebrush and fire related research funded in FY23.  Each webinar will loosely follow the themes of Fire, Invasives, Sagebrush Restoration, Climate, and Grouse/Wildlife.  More information on the projects covered will be shared soon.

When: Thursdays from 8:00-10:30 PST/9:00-11:30 MST
Still upcoming is: Feb 29Recordings: Webinars will be recorded, but it will be some time before they will be available to a non-DOI audience.
How: Microsoft Teams meeting (no registration required)

Click here to join

Meeting ID: 270 206 584 228Passcode: zdGDqX

FEB 29 Presentations:

TBA

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Post-fire mastication effects on shrub regrowth

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In California’s dry mixed conifer forests, increasingly large high severity wildfires threaten to convert significant areas of forested land into shrub dominated landscapes in the absence of active reforestation, including control of competing vegetation. Previous studies have found that salvage logging and other methods used to prepare a site for reforestation may reduce shrub cover after wildfire. This study investigated the effect of masticated fuel depth on shrub growth where salvage logging and mastication followed high severity wildfire.

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