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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

Toward an integrated system for fire, smoke and air quality simulations

Authored by A.K. Kochanski; Published 2015

In this study, WRF-Sfire is coupled with WRF-Chem to construct WRFSC, an integrated forecast system for wildfire behaviour and smoke prediction. WRF-Sfire directly predicts wildfire spread, plume and plume-top heights, providing comprehensive meteorology and fire emissions to chemical transport model WRF-Chem, eliminating the need for an external plume-rise model. Evaluation of WRFSC was based on comparisons between available observations of fire perimeter and fire intensity, smoke spread, PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in diameter), NO and ozone concentrations, and plume-top heights with the results of two WRFSC simulations, a 48-h simulation of the 2007 Witch–Guejito Santa Ana fires and a 96-h WRF-Sfire simulation with passive tracers of the 2012 Barker Canyon fire. The study found overall good agreement between forecast and observed local- and long-range fire spread and smoke transport for the Witch–Guejito fire. However, ozone, PM2.5 and NO concentrations were generally underestimated and peaks mistimed in the simulations. This study found overall good agreement between simulated and observed plume-top heights, with slight underestimation by the simulations. Two promising results were the agreement between plume-top heights for the Barker Canyon fire and faster than real-time execution, making WRFSC a possible operational tool.

Traversing Through the Haze - Exploring the Human Perspective of Smoke from Fire

Authored by S.S. Frederick; C. Olsen; E. Toman; Published 2013
How does this smoke affect people? Do people know where the smoke comes from and does such knowledge affect their attitude towards it? Do concerns about smoke preclude the use of prescribed fire? Gaining insight into public attitudes toward smoke is important in making decisions regarding its management. To investigate these questions, we conducted a mail survey of households in four sites across the US in 2012. Nearly 1000 people responded to the survey.


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

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

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.

A bird’s-eye view: Land-use planning and assessments in Oregon and Washington

Authored by M. Oliver; Published 2015

Developing forest lands and agricultural lands for other uses has wide-ranging implications. Land development can affect production from forest and agricultural lands, wildlife habitat quality, the spread of invasive species, water quality, wildfire control, and infrastructure costs. In its attempts to mitigate these effects, Oregon implemented statewide land-use planning laws in the early 1970s. Washington established less prescriptive laws in the 1990s. Policymakers, land managers, and various interest groups want to know the effect these laws have had on land use.

Scientists with the Pacific Northwest Research Station found that Oregon’s laws have been more effective in controlling wholesale land conversion, but in neither state have land-use laws affected the increases in dispersed housing.

The scientists also identified a nationwide need to better specify land-use assessment methods and clarify the definitions used in assessments. They used a mix of assessment techniques, but emphasized the value of aerial photography as an important tool to increase the accuracy of land-use assessments.

The Oregon Board of Forestry used data from the study to assess the effectiveness of its conservation policies and establish benchmarks for maximum allowable loss of forest land. In Washington, the Department of Natural Resources has shown interest in using the data to analyze housing density near intensive agriculture and associated risks of pesticide exposure, fire, and floods.

NWFSC Activity Report - Using Prescribed Fire as a Management Strategy in the Turnbull NWR

Authored by C. Berger; Published 2015

Management strategies developed for Turnbull NWR call for the integration of a variety of techniques to restore natural stand conditions, reduce hazard fuels and improve wildlife habitat. These strategies include various types of thinning followed by the application of prescribed fire.

On April 14, 2015 the NW Fire Science Consortium sponsored a technical field tour to the refuge led by
Mike Rule, refuge wildlife biologist, and Doug Frederick, Assistant Fire Management Officer.
The tour included five stops; starting at the Headquarters for an overview of the refuge and discussion on management strategies.
Stop 1: Untreated forest
Stop 2: Fall Rx burn with high pine mortality and subsequent hardwood re-establishment
Stop 3: Recent fall Rx burn (<2 years)
Stop 4: Commercial thin with Rx Burn–spring vs. fall burning
Stop 5: Recent commerical thinning with a clumping prescription with Rx burn


The 2nd Southern California Chaparral Symposium

Conference Event from California Fire Science Consortium & USFS Pacific SW Region

Understanding the Ecological Value of Chaparral Landscapes: Ecosystem Services, Human Management, and Future Trends

Southern California is among the most biodiverse regions of the United States, and also home to millions of people living in close proximity to natural areas. Chaparral vegetation dominates the southern California landscape, but there is little public appreciation of the ecological value of chaparral, of the ecosystem services that chaparral landscapes provide, or current and projected trends in the sustainability of this precious and unique natural resource.

Join us for a three day workshop and poster session, followed by 1.5 days of field trips, dedicated to highlighting the importance of chaparral landscapes to the ecology, resources, and people of southern California.

Private Forest Owners and Wildfire Risk - Policy Implications in a Diverse Population

Authored by ; Published 2014
To better understand non industrial private forest owners, and subsequently the types of policies that are most likely to engage them in fuel mitigation strategies, researchers at the USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station and Oregon State University surveyed and interviewed private forest landowners living in fire-prone forests in eastern and central Oregon. Over 500 survey responses and 60 one-on-one interviews with NIPF owners helped the research team better understand different types of landowners, their distinct motivations, and policy suitabilities for hazardous fuels reduction.


Drivers of Wildfire Suppression Costs

Webinar from Northwest Fire Science Consortium

Cassandra Moseley - Director & Autumn Ellison - Research Assistant, Ecosystem Workforce Program, Institute for a Sustainable Environment, University of Oregon presents: Drivers of Wildfire Suppression Costs

Recorded May 20, 2015

Watch the webinar on our YouTube Channel!

Fire Without Borders: Observations, Experiences, and Lessons Learned from the 36-Pit Fire

Tour Event from Oregon State University Forestry & Natural Resources Extension

The field tour will begin and end at Timber Park in Estacada to gather participants and board vans/buses. Featured topics include: silviculture, stand management, fuels management, and what was observed/learned about fire behavior in the different forest types and management units across both public and private land ownership.

Learn about the behavior of the 36-Pit fire as told by those who experienced it, including details on fuel conditions, topography, weather, and the suppression effort. Discuss management implications with respect to fire resistance, fire resiliency, and fire safety.

Registration is required ($15) and includes lunch and transportation. Sign up now - space is limited!

Post-fire Science Discussion: Impacts and Implications for Management

Tour Event from Northwest Fire Science Consortium and Blue Mountains Forest Partners

This workshop and field tour will cover current science of the post-fire environment and provide discussion for possible management options. The speakers will present on the impacts fire have on the length of time snags persist on the landscape, the possible impacts to soil and what types of post-fire habit are preferred by different species of woodpeckers. The workshop and field tour are open to the public and are free. 

Fire and non-native grass invasion interact to suppress tree regeneration in temperate deciduous forests

Authored by L. Flory; Published 2015
  1. While many ecosystems depend on fire to maintain biodiversity, non-native plant invasions can enhance fire intensity, suppressing native species and generating a fire–invasion feedback. These dynamics have been observed in arid and semi-arid ecosystems, but fire–invasion interactions in temperate deciduous forests, where prescribed fires are often used as management tools to enhance native diversity, have rarely been investigated.
  2. Here we evaluated the effects of a widespread invasive grass on fire behaviour in eastern deciduous forests in the USA and the potential effects of fire and invasions on tree regeneration. We planted native trees into invaded and uninvaded forests, quantified fuel loads, then applied landscape-scale prescribed fires and no-burn controls, and measured fire behaviour and tree seedling and invasive plant performance.
  3. Our results show that fires in invaded habitats were significantly more intense, including higher fire temperatures, longer duration and higher flame heights, even though invasions did not alter total fuel loads. The invasion plus fire treatment suppressed native tree seedling survival by 54% compared to invasions without fire, and invasions reduced natural tree recruitment by 66%.
  4. We also show that invasive plant biomass did not change from one season to the next in plots where fire was applied, but invader biomass declined significantly in unburned reference plots, suggesting a positive invasive grass–fire feedback.
  5. Synthesis and applications. These findings demonstrate that fire–invasion interactions can have significant consequences for invaded temperate forest ecosystems by increasing fire intensity and reducing tree establishment while promoting invasive plant persistence. To encourage tree regeneration and slow invasive spread, we recommend that forest managers remove invasions prior to applying prescribed fires or avoid the use of fire in habitats invaded by non-native grasses.

Historical northern spotted owl habitat and old-growth dry forests maintained by mixed-severity wildfires

Authored by W.L. Baker; Published 2015

Context: Reconstructing historical habitat could help reverse declining animal populations, but detailed, spatially comprehensive data are rare. For example, habitat for the federally threatened Northern spotted owl (NSO; Strix occidentalis caurina) was thought historically rare because low-severity fires kept forests open and habitat restricted to fire refugia, but spatial historical data are lacking. Objectives: Here I use public land-surveys to spatially reconstruct NSO habitat and old-growth forests in dry forests in Oregon's Eastern Cascades in the late-1800s. I used reconstructions of forest structure across about 280,000 ha, including 9,605 tree records and 2,180 section-line descriptions. I was able to reconstruct likely NSO nest trees, nest stands, and foraging and roosting habitat, based on modern NSO habitat studies. Results: Historical nest stands, including sufficient nest trees, were predicted across 22-39% and foraging and roosting habitat across 11-68% of the study area, thus neither were rare. More habitat than expected occurred in forests with preceding mixed-severity fires. Early post-fire succession produced foraging and roosting habitat. Mid- to late-succession produced nesting habitat. Late-succession after high-severity fires can also provide NSO habitat. Old-growth forests, covering 76% of study-area forests, also likely link to preceding mixed-severity fires. Conclusions: Mixed- and high-severity fires strongly shaped historical dry forests and produced important components of historical NSO habitat. Focus on short-term loss of nest sites and territories to these fires is mis-directed. Fuel treatments to reduce these natural fires, if successful, would reduce future habitat of the NSO in dry forests.