Resistance & Resilience

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Characterizing ecoregions and montane perennial watersheds of the Great Basin

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Multiple research and management partners collaboratively developed a multiscale approach for assessing the geomorphic sensitivity of streams and ecological resilience of riparian and meadow ecosystems in upland watersheds of the Great Basin to disturbances and management actions. The approach builds on long-term work by the partners on the responses of these systems to disturbances and management actions. At the core of the assessments is information on past and present watershed and stream channel characteristics, geomorphic and hydrologic processes, and riparian and meadow vegetation. In this report, we describe the approach used to delineate Great Basin mountain ranges and the watersheds within them, and the data that are available for the individual watersheds. It also describes the resulting database and the data sources. Furthermore, it summarizes information on the characteristics of the regions and watersheds within the regions and the implications of the assessments for geomorphic sensitivity and ecological resilience. The target audience for this multiscale approach is managers and stakeholders interested in assessing and adaptively managing Great Basin stream systems and riparian and meadow ecosystems.


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Geomorphic sensitivity and ecological resilience of Great Basin streams and riparian ecosystems

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A new USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain General Technical Report on geomorphic sensitivity and ecological resilience of Great Basin streams and riparian ecosystems is now available. It provides the information needed to evaluate the sensitivity and resilience of Great Basin watersheds based on the characteristics of the streams and riparian ecosystems, determine how they are likely to respond to disturbance and management actions, and prioritize areas for conservation and restoration actions.

A website has been developed that provides an overview of GTR-426 and has downloadable, autofill forms for implementing the assessment.

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Disturbance and sustainability in forests of the western US

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This report assesses recent forest disturbance in the Western United States and discusses implications for sustainability. Individual chapters focus on fire, drought, insects, disease, invasive plants, and socioeconomic impacts. Disturbance data came from a variety of sources, including the Forest Inventory and Analysis program, Forest Health Protection, and the National Interagency Fire Center. Disturbance trends with the potential to affect forest sustainability include alterations in fire regimes, periods of drought in some parts of the region, and increases in invasive plants, insects, and disease. Climate affects most disturbance processes, particularly drought, fire, and biotic disturbances, and climate change is expected to continue to affect disturbance processes in various ways and degrees.

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Forest resistance to extended drought enhanced by Rx fire in low-elevation Sierra Nevada

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Relative to unburned sites, we found that burned sites had lower stem density and had lower proportions of recently dead trees (for stems ≤47.5 cm dbh) that presumably died during the drought. Differences in recent tree mortality among burned and unburned sites held for both fir (white fir and red fir) and pine (sugar pine and ponderosa pine) species. Unlike earlier results, models of individual tree mortality probability supported an interaction between plot burn status and tree size, suggesting the effect of prescribed fire was limited to small trees. We consider differences with other recent results and discuss potential management implications including trade-offs between large tree mortality following prescribed fire and increased drought resistance.

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Wildfire science and values

Webinar recording.

During this peer learning session, speakers will:

  • Build understanding about the spectrum of complementary actions, based on available science, to protect the built environment and community values from wildfire, improve the ecological resilience of our landscapes, and improve the safety and effectiveness of wildfire management;
  • Discuss the concepts of landscape resilience, the wildland urban interface and the home ignition zone, fire management options, and the roles they play in reducing fire risk;
  • Address why fire needs to be restored to the landscape;
  • Consider the values that could be lost and how they relate to fire; and
  • Discuss how to increase the options for fire managers to implement integrated active management.
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2021 Rangeland Fall Forum: From Drought to Resilience

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This year’s Forum focused on drought impacts for Idaho rangelands and strategies for moving landscapes and communities towards resilience. A diverse group of panelists and speakers presented on the economic, social, and ecological implications of drought, as well as solutions.

Resilience and Resistance – A Collection of Resources

SRM 2021 Conference logo

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.

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Resilience to fire and resistance to annual grass invasion in sagebrush ecosystems of US National Parks

Approximately 70 park units include at least some sagebrush shrublands or steppe, but we identified 40 parks with substantial amounts (>20% of park area) that can be included in an agency-wide conservation strategy. Second, we examined detailed patterns of resilience and resistance, fire history and fire risk, cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invasion, and sagebrush shrub (Artemisia spp.) persistence in five national park units in Columbia Basin and Snake River Plain sagebrush steppe, contextualized by the broader summary. In these five parks, fire frequency and size increased in recent decades. Cheatgrass invasion and sagebrush persistence correlated strongly with resilience, burn frequency (0–3 fires since ~1940), and burn probability, but with important variation, in part mediated by local-scale topography. Third, we used these insights to assemble strategic sagebrush ecosystem fire protection mapping scenarios in two additional parks – Lava Beds National Monument and Great Basin National Park. Readily available and periodically updated geospatial data including soil surveys, fire histories, vegetation inventories, and long-term monitoring support resiliency-based adaptive management through tactical planning of pre-fire protection, post-fire restoration, and triage. Our assessment establishes the precarious importance of the US national park system to sagebrush ecosystem conservation and an operational strategy for place-based and science-supported conservation.

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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.

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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