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The Northwest Fire Science Consortium works to accelerate the awareness, understanding, and adoption of wildland fire science. We connect managers, practitioners, scientists, and local communities and collaboratives working on fire issues on forest and range lands in Washington and Oregon.

Learn more about NWFSC...

JFSP Regions


NWFSC is one of
fifteen regional exchanges
sponsored by the Joint Fire Science Program.

Hot Topics

Social and economic monitoring for the Lakeview Stewardship Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project

Authored by E.M. White; Published 2015

The Fremont-Winema National Forest and the Lakeview Stewardship Group were awarded funding under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) Program in 2012 for the 662,289 acre Lakeview Stewardship Project. The CFLR Program, administered by the U.S. Forest Service, seeks to increase restoration activities to improve the ecological conditions of forested landscapes while contributing to the social and economic well-being of communities located around national forests.The outcomes from CFLR project activities are monitored both through a standardized reporting framework established by the Forest Service and a customized, collaboratively-developed multiparty monitoring program developed for each project by local partners. The multiparty monitoring program developed for the Lakeview Stewardship Project examines ecological, social, and economic effects of the CFLR project. This working paper comprises the social and economic components of the multiparty monitoring for the Lakeview Stewardship Project for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. In addition to examining the outcomes of the CFLR project, we also completed a baseline assessment of patterns of restoration contracting and timber sales on the Lakeview and Paisley ranger districts in recent years.

Local Ecological Knowledge and Fire Management: What Does the Public Understand?

Authored by J.M. Diaz; Published 2015

As fire management agencies seek to implement more flexible fire management strategies, local understanding and support for these strategies become increasingly important. One issue associated with implementing more flexible fire management strategies is educating local populations about fire management and identifying what local populations know or do not know related to fire management. This study used survey data from three 2010 wildland fires to understand how ecological knowledge and education level affected fire management perception and understanding. Results indicated that increased accuracy in identifying ecological conditions was associated with higher proficiencies in the identification of fire management strategies used for wildfires. Education levels were not significantly related to public perception of fire management but were related to significant differences in accurately identifying ecological conditions. Results suggest that education may play a mediating role in understanding complex wildfire issues but is not associated with a better understanding of fire management.

Tracking Progress through Collaborative Monitoring

Monitoring plays a prominent role in collaborative projects and can be used to strengthen communication and consensus among diverse groups. Monitoring allows collaborative projects to define their landscape management process and serves as a neutral approach to determining effectiveness. Learn key concepts of a monitoring framework and guiding principles for practical, efficient monitoring.

Trust: A Planning Guide for Wildfire Agencies & Practitioners

Authored by B. Shindler; Published 2014

In increasing numbers, agency personnel, interest groups, and residents of at-risk communities are coming together to consider wildfire problems and taking steps to solve them. Particularly with regard to fire management, trust among parties is an essential element to successful local programs (Olsen & Shindler 2010, Lachapelle & McCool 2012). Despite a growing body of research literature on this topic, there are few practical guides for fire managers and practitioners about how to build and evaluate trust amongst stakeholders. Our intention here is to bring clarity to the trust concept and focus it specifically for use in fire management settings.

Remote Sensing for Wildfire Applications

This three-day workshop provides students with hands-on experience using satellite remote sensing data within ArcGIS 10.3 to better understand and manage wildfires. This workshop focuses on pre-fire, active-fire, and post-fire applications as well as long-term monitoring with satellite imagery.

This workshop is one-of-a-kind, sponsored by NASA Applied Remote Sensing Training (ARSET), NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium, the GIS TReC at ISU, and the International Association of Wildland Fire.

Prerequisites: Completion of the ARSET webinar and Introduction to Remote Sensing for Wildfire Applications.

Intended audience: Wildfire managers, land managers, and GIS users working with wildfires.


6th International Fire Ecology & Management Congress

Conference Event from Association for Fire Ecology

The Association for Fire Ecology (AFE) is pleased to announce the 6th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress to be held in San Antonio, Texas, USA.  Since 2000, AFE has hosted a Fire Congress every three years. These events are the largest, most comprehensive meetings on the research and management of wildland fire that are held anywhere in the world.  They provide unparalleled exposure to the complexity, breadth, and depth of the field of wildland fire.  Providing a respect­ful, inclusive forum for a diverse range of topics and opinions is one of the founding principles that has been part of the success of the Fire Congress series.  We hope you will join us to share with, learn from, and be inspired by fellow attendees who will gather from across the globe.

Call for special sessions & more http://ow.ly/KgH1t

Climate change and fire in the Southwest

Global climate change will lead to shifts in climate patterns and fire regimes in the Southwest over coming decades. The intent of this webinar is to summarize the current state of scientific knowledge about climate change predictions in the Southwest as well as the pathways by which fire might be affected. While the paper is focused on the Southwest, in particular Arizona and New Mexico, some of the material cited covers a broader area.
To register for this webinar, click here NOW!

The Ecological Importance of Mixed-Severity Fires: Nature's Phoenix

Authored by D.A. DellaSala; C.T. Hanson; Published 2015

The Ecological Importance of High-Severity Fires, presents information on the current paradigm shift in the way people think about wildfire and ecosystems.

While much of the current forest management in fire-adapted ecosystems, especially forests, is focused on fire prevention and suppression, little has been reported on the ecological role of fire, and nothing has been presented on the importance of high-severity fire with regards to the maintenance of native biodiversity and fire-dependent ecosystems and species.

Restoring fire-prone Inland Pacific landscapes: seven core principles

Authored by P.F. Hessburg; Published 2015

More than a century of forest and fire management of Inland Pacific landscapes has transformed their successional and disturbance dynamics. Regional connectivity of many terrestrial and aquatic habitats is fragmented, flows of some ecological and physical processes have been altered in space and time, and the frequency, size and intensity of many disturbances that configure these habitats have been altered. Current efforts to address these impacts yield a small footprint in comparison to wildfires and insect outbreaks. Moreover, many current projects emphasize thinning and fuels reduction within individual forest stands, while overlooking large-scale habitat connectivity and disturbance flow issues.

Fire-Adapted Communities: The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness in Klamath County

Authored by D. Leavell; Published 2015

This is a manual that helps homeowners and neighborhoods prepare their areas and their homes for wildfire. A fire-adapted community is a community located in a fire-prone area that requires little assistance from firefighters during a wildfire. Residents of these communities accept responsibility for living in a high fire-hazard area. They possess the knowledge and skills to prepare their homes and property to survive wildfire; evacuate early, safely and effectively; and survive, if trapped by wildfire.

Topography, fuels, and fire exclusion drive fire severity of the Rim Fire in an old-growth mixed-conifer forest, Yosemite National Park, USA

Authored by L. Harris; Published 2015

The number of large, high-severity fires has increased in the western United States over the past 30 years due to climate change and increasing tree density from fire suppression. Fuel quantity, topography, and weather during a burn control fire severity, and the relative contributions of these controls in mixed-severity fires in mountainous terrain are poorly understood. In 2013, the Rim Fire burned a previously studied 2125 ha area of mixed-conifer forest in Yosemite National Park. Data from 84 plots sampled in 2002 revealed increases in tree density, basal area, and fuel buildup since 1899 due to fire exclusion. A dendroecological fire history and reconstruction of forest structure in 1899 showed that this area historically experienced frequent, low-severity fire. In contrast with this region’s historical fire regime, burn severity from Landsat imagery showed that this area burned at mixed-severity in the Rim Fire, with 13% of plots classified as unchanged, 31% low severity, 32% moderate severity, and 24% high severity. A random forest model was used to identify the controls of fire severity in this portion of the Rim Fire, using daily area burned, daily fire weather, and fuels and vegetation data for the surface and canopy. Topography, tree species composition, and cover of forbs and shrubs best explained the fire severity. As an example of a re-entry burn, this study demonstrates how fire exclusion alters fire–vegetation interactions, leading to uncharacteristically severe burns and potentially new fire-vegetation dynamics.

Climate change presents increased potential for very large fires in the contiguous United States

Authored by R. Barbero; Published 2015

Very large fires (VLFs) have important implications for communities, ecosystems, air quality and fire suppression expenditures. VLFs over the contiguous US have been strongly linked with meteorological and climatological variability. Building on prior modelling of VLFs (>5000 ha), an ensemble of 17 global climate models were statistically downscaled over the US for climate experiments covering the historic and mid-21st-century periods to estimate potential changes in VLF occurrence arising from anthropogenic climate change. Increased VLF potential was projected across most historically fire-prone regions, with the largest absolute increase in the intermountain West and Northern California. Complementary to modelled increases in VLF potential were changes in the seasonality of atmospheric conditions conducive to VLFs, including an earlier onset across the southern US and more symmetric seasonal extension in the northern regions. These projections provide insights into regional and seasonal distribution of VLF potential under a changing climate, and serve as a basis for future strategic and tactical fire management options.

Low-severity fire increases tree defense against bark beetle attacks

Authored by S. Hood; Published 2015
Induced defense is a common plant strategy in response to herbivory. Although abiotic damage, such as physical wounding, pruning, and heating, can induce plant defense, the effect of such damage by large-scale abiotic disturbances on induced defenses has not been explored and could have important consequences for plant survival facing future biotic disturbances. Historically, low-severity wildfire was a widespread, frequent abiotic disturbance in many temperate coniferous forests. Native Dendroctonus and Ips bark beetles are also a common biotic disturbance agent in these forest types and can influence tree mortality patterns after wildfire. Therefore, species living in these disturbance-prone environments with strategies to survive both frequent fire and bark beetle attack should be favored. One such example is Pinus ponderosa forests of western North America. These forests are susceptible to bark beetle attack and frequent, low-severity fire was common prior to European settlement. However, since the late 1800s, frequent, low-severity fires have greatly decreased in these forests. We hypothesized that non-lethal, low-severity, wildfire induces resin duct defense in P. ponderosa and that lack of low-severity fire relaxes resin duct defense in forests dependent on frequent, low-severity fire. We first compared axial resin duct traits between trees that either survived or died from bark beetle attacks. Next, we studied axial ducts using tree cores with crossdated chronologies in several natural P. ponderosa stands before and after an individual wildfire and, also, before and after an abrupt change in fire frequency in the 20th century. We show that trees killed by bark beetles invested less in resin ducts relative to trees that survived attack, suggesting that resin duct-related traits provide resistance against bark beetles. We then show low-severity fire induces resin duct production, and finally, that resin duct production declines when fire ceases. Our results demonstrate that low-severity fire can trigger a long-lasting induced defense that may increase tree survival from subsequent herbivory.

Increasing weight of evidence that thinning and burning treatments help restore understory plant communities in ponderosa pine forests

Authored by R.T. Strahan; Published 2015

For more than a century ecosystems around the world have experienced an increase in the dominance of woody species. While the drivers of woody plant proliferation are complex, interactions between climate and land-use change are commonly invoked as primary contributing factors. In ponderosa pine forests of western North America, substantial increases in tree densities are impacting overall forest health and increasing the risk for severe wildfires and insect and disease outbreaks. Addressing this problem through the use of ecological restoration projects is widely advocated. Our objective was to quantify understory vegetation response five years after thinning and burning treatments in a southwestern ponderosa pine forest. We remeasured plant species richness and cover on thinned + burned, burned only, and untreated controls replicated four time in a BACI design. An untreated control (Untreated) was used for comparison of two alternative restoration treatments (1) thinning followed by prescribed fire (Thin + Burn) and (2) prescribed fire only (Burn-only). Understory species richness and total plant cover increased significantly in Thin + Burn compared to the Untreated and Burn-only treatments. Analysis of functional group composition revealed increases in species richness and cover was driven primarily by changes in annual–biennial forbs and graminoids. We then compared our results with those of three Long-term Ecological Restoration and Assessment Network (LEARN) sites. We found total and native plant cover showed evidence of a consistent response to Thin + Burn treatments across all sites. However, results suggest that understory response to restoration treatments is under strong environmental control. As a consequence the range of variability associated with understory responses should be expected to expand or contract depending on where treatments are implemented. Overall our findings add to a growing body of literature that restoration treatments combining mechanical thinning and prescribed fire are useful for increasing native understory abundance and diversity.

Oregon Fire Prevention Workshop

We are now accepting proposals for educational presentations for the 2016 Oregon Fire Prevention Workshop. We are interested in structural and wildland fire prevention and safety education topics. You may submit as many proposals as you wish, but only one proposal per web form. All proposals will be reviewed by the 2016 Oregon Fire Prevention Workshop Committee, and selections will be based on relevance, focus, cost, and practical application. Lodging and meals will be provided at no cost for presenters at the workshop facility.

Proposals are due by September 25, 2015. The 2016 Oregon Fire Prevention Workshop Planning Committee will review proposals on October 6, 2015. You will be contacted by October 31, 2015. To submit a proposal, visit: workshop website.

Effect of mastication and other mechanical treatments on fuel structure in chaparral

Authored by T.J. Brennan; Published 2015

Mechanical fuel treatments are a common pre-fire strategy for reducing wildfire hazard that alters fuel structure by converting live canopy fuels to a compacted layer of dead surface fuels. Current knowledge concerning their effectiveness, however, comes primarily from forest-dominated ecosystems. Our objectives were to quantify and compare changes in shrub-dominated chaparral following crushing, mastication, re-mastication and mastication-plus-burning treatments, and to assess treatment longevity. Results from analysis of variance (ANOVA) identified significant differences in all fuel components by treatment type, vegetation type and time since treatment. Live woody fuel components of height, cover and mass were positively correlated with time since treatment, whereas downed woody fuel components were negatively correlated. Herbaceous fuels, conversely, were not correlated, and exhibited a 5-fold increase in cover across treatment types in comparison to controls. Average live woody fuel recovery was 50% across all treatment and vegetation types. Differences in recovery between time-since-treatment years 1–8 ranged from 32–65% and exhibited significant positive correlations with time since treatment. These results suggest that treatment effectiveness is short term due to the rapid regrowth of shrubs in these systems and is compromised by the substantial increase in herbaceous fuels. Consequences of not having a full understanding of these treatments are serious and leave concern for their widespread use on chaparral-dominated landscapes.

The Burning Question: The Future of Wildland Fire Management

Wildland fire management faces unprecedented challenges in the 21st century: The growing costs of fire management, growing populations, urban sprawl, and the rise of high-impact fires are causing great concern among wildfire experts. These issues, coupled with the increasingly apparent effects of climate change, are making many question whether conventional approaches will be effective in the future. Now, more than ever, innovative and forward-thinking approaches to wildland fire management are needed. But where to start?

In this webinar, Dr. David Bengston, social scientist and environmental futurist with the United States Forest Service, will discuss the findings from a recent study that was conducted by a foresight panel consisting of leading academic and professional futurists outside of the wildfire community and two wildfire professionals.

To register, click HERE

JFSP Notice of Intent for potential 2016 topics

FON 1- Primary
A. Implications of changing ecosystems - selected regions
B. Social, organizational and institutional barriers to implementing prescribed fire
C. Restoration of sagebrusg habitat in the Great Basin- operational applications
D. Fire effects on tree mortality
E. Implications of managed-perimeter and burn-out wildfire response strategies
F. Post-fire landscape management
G. Regional needs

FON 2- Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment (FASMEE)
FON 3- New Science Initiative- Ecological & social dimensions of resilient landscapes
FON 4- Graduate Research Innovation (GRIN) award

For more information on any of these, see the complete announcement on the JFSP website...

Does wildfire likelihood increase following insect outbreaks in conifer forests?

Authored by G.W. Meigs; Published 2015
Although there is acute concern that insect-caused tree mortality increases the likelihood or severity of subsequent wildfire, previous studies have been mixed, with findings typically based on stand-scale simulations or individual events. This study investigates landscape- and regional-scale wildfire likelihood following outbreaks of the two most prevalent native insect pests in the US Pacific Northwest (PNW): mountain pine beetle (MPB; Dendroctonus ponderosae) and western spruce budworm (WSB; Choristoneura freemani). We leverage seamless census data across numerous insect and fire events to (1) summarize the interannual dynamics of insects (1970–2012) and wildfires (1984–2012) across forested ecoregions of the PNW; (2) identify potential linked disturbance interactions with an empirical wildfire likelihood index; (3) quantify this insect-fire likelihood across different insect agents, time lags, ecoregions, and fire sizes. All three disturbance agents have occurred primarily in the drier, interior conifer forests east of the Cascade Range. In general, WSB extent exceeds MPB extent, which in turn exceeds wildfire extent, and each disturbance typically affects less than 2% annually of a given ecoregion. In recent decades across the PNW, wildfire likelihood does not consistently increase or decrease following insect outbreaks. There is evidence, however, of linked interactions that vary across insect agent (MPB, WSB), space (ecoregion), and time (interval since insect onset). Specifically, in most cases following MPB activity, fire likelihood is neither higher nor lower than in non-MPB-affected forests. In contrast, fire likelihood is lower following WSB activity across multiple ecoregions and time lags. In addition, insect-fire likelihood is not consistently associated with interannual fire extent, suggesting that other factors (e.g., climate) control the disproportionately large fire years accounting for regional fire dynamics. Thus, although both bark beetles and defoliators alter fuels and associated fire potential, the windows of opportunity for increased or decreased fire likelihood are too narrow—or the phenomena themselves too rare—for a consistent signal to emerge across PNW conifer forests. These findings suggest that strategic plans should recognize (1) the relative rarity of insect-fire interactions and (2) the potential ecosystem restoration benefits of native insect outbreaks, when they do occur.

Climate-induced variations in global wildfire danger from 1979 to 2013

Authored by M. Jolly; Published 2015

Climate strongly influences global wildfire activity, and recent wildfire surges may signal fire weather-induced pyrogeographic shifts. Here we use three daily global climate data sets and three fire danger indices to develop a simple annual metric of fire weather season length, and map spatio-temporal trends from 1979 to 2013. We show that fire weather seasons have lengthened across 29.6millionkm2 (25.3%) of the Earth’s vegetated surface, resulting in an 18.7% increase in global mean fire weather season length. We also show a doubling (108.1% increase) of global burnable area affected by long fire weather seasons (>1.0 σ above the historical mean) and an increased global frequency of long fire weather seasons across 62.4millionkm2 (53.4%) during the second half of the study period. If these fire weather changes are coupled with ignition sources and available fuel, they could markedly impact global ecosystems, societies, economies and climate.

Forest disturbance accelerates thermophilization of understory plant communities

Authored by J.T. Stevens; Published 2015

1. Climate change is likely to shift plant communities towards species from warmer regions, a process
termed ‘thermophilization’. In forests, canopy disturbances such as fire may hasten this process
by increasing temperature and moisture stress in the understory, yet little is known about the mechanisms
that might drive such shifts, or the consequences of these processes for plant diversity.
2. We sampled understory vegetation across a gradient of disturbance severity from a large-scale
natural experiment created by the factorial combination of forest thinning and wildfire in California.
Using information on evolutionary history and functional traits, we tested the hypothesis that disturbance
severity should increase community dominance by species with southern-xeric biogeographic
affinities. We also analysed how climatic productivity mediates the effect of disturbance severity,
and quantified the functional trait response to disturbance, to investigate potential mechanisms
behind thermophilization.
3. The proportion of north-temperate flora decreased, while the proportion of southern-xeric flora
increased, with greater disturbance severity and less canopy closure. Disturbance caused a greater
reduction of north-temperate flora in productive (wetter) forests, while functional trait analyses suggested
that species colonizing after severe disturbance may be adapted to increased water stress. Forests
with intermediate disturbance severity, where abundances of northern and southern species were
most equitable, had the highest stand-scale understory diversity.
4. Synthesis: Canopy disturbance is likely to accelerate plant community shifts towards species from
warmer regions, via its effects on understory microclimate at small scales. Understory diversity can
be enhanced by intermediate disturbance regimes that promote the coexistence of species with different
biogeographic affinities.

Connecting Research to Practice: The Evolving World of Extension and Knowledge Exchange

Conference Event from IUFRO

The FINAL CALL for Abstracts closes 9 April 2015.
Abstracts should be no more than 200 words, and should include the title, all authors and affiliations, and indicate whether they are to be considered for either an oral or poster presentation, or both. Please include the name and email for the primary contact and title your email: "LASTNAME"_IUFRO_EKE

Oral presentation slots are limited to 30.  Those not accepted for an oral presentation will we accepted for a poster presentation.

Please email your abstract to janean.creighton@oregonstate.edu

For more information, click HERE

NWFSC Fire Facts: What is? Fire Severity

Authored by ; Published 2015

Fire severity refers to the effects of a fire on the environment, typically focusing on the loss of vegetation both above ground and below ground but also including soil impacts.

An empirical wildfire risk analysis: the probability of a fire spreading to the urban interface in Sydney, Australia

Authored by O. Price; Published 2015

We present a method and case study to predict and map the likelihood of wildfires spreading to the urban interface through statistical analysis of past fire patterns using 15 000 lines from 677 fires with known ignition points and date and random potential end points on the urban interface of Sydney, Australia. A binomial regression approach was used to model whether the fire burnt to the end point of the lines as a function of measures of distance, fuel, weather and barriers to spread. Fire weather had the strongest influence on burning likelihood followed by the percentage of the line that was forested, distance and time since last fire. Fuel treatments would substantially reduce risk from fires starting 1–4 km away from the interface. The model captured 90% of variation in burning with 98% predictive accuracy on test data and was not affected by spatial autocorrelation. We apply the method to map fire risk in Sydney and discuss how the method could be expanded to estimate total risk (from ignition to impact on assets). The method has considerable promise for predicting risk, especially as a complement to simulation methods.

Colorado Wildland Fire Conference 2015

This year's conference is designed to provide the framework for becoming a Fire Adapted Community.  Anyone wishing to learn more about how they can reduce their community's vulnerability to wildfire is welcome to attend. 

The conference will provide a variety of educational tracks tailored to real-estate agents, developers, professional planners, insurance industry representatives, community leaders, contractors as well as firefighters and emergency service professionals!


Call for Presentations!

We are now accepting presentation proposals for the Colorado Wildland Fire Conference, which will occur September 24 – 26, 2015 at the Viceroy Snowmass in Snowmass Village, CO. This conference is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise about creating Fire Adapted Communities and efforts to address wildfire risk. Please fill out the online Google form LINK

Presentation proposals are due Friday, May 1, 2015 by 11:59 p.m.

Managing for climate change on federal lands of the western United States: perceived usefulness of climate science, effectiveness of adaptation strategies, and barriers to implementation

Authored by K.B. Kemp; Published 2015

Recent mandates in the United States require federal agencies to incorporate climate change science into land management planning efforts. These mandates target possible adaptation and mitigation strategies. However, the degree to which climate change is actively being considered in agency planning and management decisions is largely unknown. We explored the usefulness of climate change science for federal resource managers, focusing on the efficacy of potential adaptation strategies and barriers limiting the use of climate change science in adaptation efforts. Our study was conducted in the northern Rocky Mountains region of the western United States, where we interacted with 77 U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management personnel through surveys, semistructured interviews, and four collaborative workshops at locations across Idaho and Montana. We used a mixed-methods approach to evaluate managers’ perceptions about adapting to and mitigating for climate change. Although resource managers incorporate general language about climate change in regional and landscape-level planning documents, they are currently not planning on-the-ground adaptation or mitigation projects. However, managers felt that their organizations were most likely to adapt to climate change through use of existing management strategies that are already widely implemented for other non climate–related management goals. These existing strategies, (e.g., thinning and prescribed burning) are perceived as more feasible than new climate-specific methods (e.g., assisted migration) because they already have public and agency support, accomplish multiple goals, and require less anticipation of the future timing and probability of climate change impacts. Participants reported that the most common barriers to using climate change information included a lack of management-relevant climate change science, inconsistent agency guidance, and insufficient time and resources to access, interpret, and apply current climate science information to management plans.

Habitat Exchange - A Market-Based Conservation Program for Greater Sage-Grouse

Habitat Exchange is a new conservation program being developed by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and its partners in several states. The purpose of the Habitat Exchange is to protect, restore, and conserve habitat value for a variety of species and ecosystems. Its goal is to provide financial and regulatory incentives and stimulate greater involvement of the private landowner community in this conservation. Read more HERE.

How to attend: On the day of the webinar,

  1.     Log-in (click or copy and paste into browser):  https://mmancusa.webex.com/mmancusa/j.php?MTID=m188b8277580c19da98ff41ed6416aaec
  2.     Dial: 1-888-834-5486 FREE; Access code: 146 452 93

Vegetation Response to Burn Severity, Native Grass Seeding, and Salvage Logging

Authored by P. Morgan; Published 2015

As the size and extent of wildfires has increased in recent decades, so has the cost and extent of post-fire management, including seeding and salvage logging.  However, we know little about how burn severity, salvage logging, and post-fire seeding interact to influence vegetation recovery long-term.  We sampled understory plant species richness, diversity, and canopy cover one to six years post fire (2006 to 2009, and 2011) on 72 permanent plots selected in a stratified random sample to define post-fire vegetation response to burn severity, post-fire seeding with native grasses, and salvage logging on the 2005 School Fire in eastern Washington.  Understory vegetation responded rapidly post fire due, in part, to ample low intensity rainfall events in the first post-fire growing season.  Vegetation was more diverse with greater plant species richness and diversity (Shannon-Wiener index) in low and moderate burn severity plots in 2006 (species richness 18; diversity 2.3) compared to high burn severity plots (species richness 10; diversity 1.8), with species richness on the high severity plots reaching 19 in the sixth post-fire year, similar to the initial values on the low and moderate burn severity plots.  Plants that commonly resprout from rhizomes, bulbs, and other surviving belowground sources were abundant post fire, while those establishing from off-site seed sources, including non-native species, were present but not abundant.  Plots seeded with native grass post fire and not salvage logged had the highest canopy cover of graminoid species: more than 30 % six years after the fire (in 2011), with low forb (15 %) and shrub (1 %) canopy cover and species richness.  For comparison, high severity plots that were not seeded and not salvage logged had 3 % graminoid cover, 14 % forb cover, and 26 % shrub cover.  Plots that had been salvage logged from one to three years after the fire produced less canopy cover of shrubs and forbs, but three times more canopy cover of graminoids on the high burn severity plots by 2011.  High severity plots that were salvage logged and not seeded with native grasses had the lowest species richness, diversity, and cover.  Very few non-native species were found, regardless of salvage logging and seeding.  Rapid post-fire growth dominated by native plants of high diversity suggests that this forest’s vegetation and soils are highly resilient to disturbance.  Overall, burn severity and post-fire seeding with native grasses were more influential than salvage logging on understory plant abundance one to six years after fire.

Landfire 101 'Got Veggies?'

LANDFIRE and the California Fire Science Consortium will co-host a webinar, "Got Veggies?" on September 23, at noon Pacific time. A major LANDFIRE project is launching this autumn, and the LF team invites consortia members to collaborate with them on the effort. LANDFIRE is updating about 1500 Biophysical Settings vegetation models and descriptions in a three-part process, and welcomes input and review from California veg and land management experts. Randy Swaty, ecologist on The Nature Conservancy’s LANDFIRE team, will talk about how LANDFIRE developed Biophysical Settings (BpS) vegetation descriptions and models, and will set the stage for the upcoming BpS review. This 40-minute webinar provides a short primer on LANDFIRE tools and data, and features California-centric maps and information.