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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.

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

Hot Topics


Let's fix the fire problem: Here's a solution

Webinar from Northwest Fire Science Consortium

Daniel Leavell, Assistant Professor of Practice & Extension Forest and Fire Agent, presented "Let's fix the fire problem: Here's a solution." Watch the video on our YouTube channel. Please note that the video recording failed during the webinar. We've done our best to pair the audio file with the Powerpoint slides. The audio may not align exactly with the appropriate slide at all times.


A multi-century history of fire regimes along a transect of mixed-conifer forests in central Oregon, U.S.A

Authored by E.K. Heyerdahl; Published 2019

Dry mixed-conifer forests are widespread in the interior Pacific Northwest, but their historical fire regimes are poorly characterized, in particular the relative mix of low- and high-severity fire. We reconstructed a multi-century history of fire from tree rings in dry mixed-conifer forests in central Oregon. These forests are dominated by ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Lawson & C. Lawson), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco), and grand fir (Abies grandis (Douglas ex D. Don) Lindl.). Across four, 30-plot grids of ~800 ha covering a mosaic of dry mixed-conifer forest types, we sampled 4065 trees for evidence of both highand low-severity fire. From 1650 to ~1900, all four sites sustained frequent, often extensive, low-severity fires that sometimes included small patches of severe fire (50-150 ha during 18%-28% of fire years). Fire intervals were similar among sites and also among forest types within sites (mean intervals of 14-32 years). To characterize the continuous nature of the variation in fire severity, we computed a plot-based index that captures the relative occurrence of low- and high-severity fire. Our work contributes to the growing understanding of variation in past fire regimes in the complex and dynamic forests of North America’s Interior West.


Historical patterns of fire severity and forest structure and composition in a landscape structured by frequent large fires: Pumice Plateau ecoregion, Oregon, USA

Authored by R.K. Hagmann; Published 2019

Context

Lack of quantitative observations of extent, frequency, and severity of large historical fires constrains awareness of departure of contemporary conditions from those that demonstrated resistance and resilience to frequent fire and recurring drought.

Objectives

Compare historical and contemporary fire and forest conditions for a dry forest landscape with few barriers to fire spread.

Methods

Quantify differences in (1) historical (1700–1918) and contemporary (1985–2015) fire extent, fire rotation, and stand-replacing fire and (2) historical (1914–1924) and contemporary (2012) forest structure and composition. Data include 85,750-ha tree-ring reconstruction of fire frequency and extent; > 375,000-ha timber inventory following > 78,900-ha fires in 1918; and remotely-sensed maps of contemporary fire effects and forest conditions.

Results

Historically, fires > 20,000 ha occurred every 9.5 years; fire rotation was 14.9 years; seven fires > 40,469 ha occurred during extreme drought (PDSI < − 4.0); and stand-replacing fire occurred primarily in lodgepole (Pinus contorta var. murrayana). In contemporary fires, only 5% of the ecoregion burned in 30 years, and stand-replacing fire occurred primarily in ponderosa (Pinus ponderosa) and mixed-conifer. Historically, density of conifers > 15 cm dbh exceeded 120 trees/ha on < 5% of the area compared to 95% currently.

Conclusions

Frequent, large, low-severity fires historically maintained open-canopy ponderosa and mixed-conifer forests in which large fire- and drought-tolerant trees were prevalent. Stand-replacing patches in ponderosa and mixed-conifer were rare, even in fires > 40,469 ha (minimum size of contemporary “megafires”) during extreme drought. In this frequent-fire landscape, mixed-severity fire historically influenced lodgepole and adjacent forests. Lack of large, frequent, low-severity fires degrades contemporary forest ecosystems.


Expect the Unexpected Fire Management Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing Climate

Webinar from Northwest Fire Science Consortium

Amanda Rau, Oregon/Washington Fire Manager with The Nature Conservancy presented "Expect the Unexpected Fire Management Challenges and Opportunities in a Changing Climate." Watch the video on our YouTube channel.


Engaging fires before they start: Spatial fire planning for the 21st Century

What will you learn?

New fire management paradigms are emerging that recognize fire is inevitable, and in many cases desirable. During this webinar you will be introduced to a new process for spatial fire planning using tools such as Potential Control Line atlases (PCLs), Quantitative wildfire Risk Assessments (QRAs), and Suppression Difficulty Index (SDI). Chris will demonstrate how these tools can align wildfire management decisions and actions, from the development of strategic wildfire response zones to in situ wildfire response decisions that balance operational success, firefighter safety and values at risk. He will also highlight opportunities to use these tools for allocating limited restoration resources to support wildfire response, including areas where cross-boundary management would be beneficial. By the end of this webinar Chris hopes you will have a better understanding of ongoing efforts to engage wildfires before they start, as a means to help society learn to live with wildfire during this period of rapid environmental change.

Presenter:

Chris Dunn, Research Associate, Oregon State University

Session Details: Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 10:00am US/Pacific || Duration: 1.0 hour

Who should participate?

Managers/Practitioners, Scientists/Researchers, Other

 

Register HERE.

Prepare your computer or mobile device in advance: WebEx instructions


Early Seral Biodiversity Science & Management Workshop

Workshop Event from Forest Biodiversity Research Network

We would like to invite you to our Early Seral Biodiversity and Management event that will take place at Oregon State University on June 10th with an optional field tour on June 11th to visit management sites.

It has now been over a decade since the topic of early seral forest emerged as a central theme in forest management in the PNW. Since then, agencies have begun to implement management techniques for creating and maintaining this forest type. Scientists and managers – primarily on state and industrial lands – have also collaborated to implement several broad-scale science efforts that test the efficacy of various early seral management techniques.

The event will include scientists, landowners, agencies, forest practitioners, non-profit organizations, and all those interested in the topic of early seral.

The objectives of this workshop are to:

  1. Present recent scientific findings on the topic of early seral forests in the PNW as they apply to management.
  2. Identify areas of agreement among agencies and other landowners on how to define and manage for early seral forests.
  3. Collaboratively identify information gaps, and conservation and management challenges that are relevant to practitioners and scientists.
  4. Outline key hypotheses that form a research agenda for the coming decade.

To view the full program or register in advance, please visit: www.forestbiodiversity.org/earlyseral


Fine scale assessment of cross boundary wildfire events in the Western US

Authored by P. Palaiologou; Published 2019

We report a fine scale assessment of cross-boundary wildfire events for the western US. We used simulation modeling to quantify the extent of fire exchange among major federal, state, and private land tenures and mapped locations where fire ignitions can potentially affect populated places. We examined how parcel size effects the wildfire transmission and partitioned the relative amounts of transmitted fire between human and natural ignitions. We estimated that almost 90 % of the total predicted wildfire activity as measured by area burned originates from four land tenures (Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, private and State lands) and 63 % of the total amount results from natural versus human ignitions. On average, one third of the area burned by predicted wildfires was non-local, meaning that the source ignition was on a different land tenure. Land tenures with smaller parcels tended to receive more incoming fire on a proportional basis, while the largest fires were generated from ignitions in national parks, national forests, public and tribal lands. Among the 11 western States, the amount and pattern of cross-boundary fire varied substantially in terms of which land tenures were mostly exposed, by whom and to what fire sizes. We also found spatial variability in terms of community exposure among States, and more than half of the predicted structure exposure was caused by ignitions on private lands or within the wildland-urban interface areas. This study addressed gaps in existing wildfire risk assessments, that do not explicitly consider cross-boundary fire transmission and do not identify the sources of fire. The results can be used by State, Federal, and local fire planning organizations to help improve risk mitigation programs.