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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

The hierarchy of predictability in ecological restoration: are vegetation structure and functional diversity more predictable than community composition?

Authored by D.C. Laughlin; Published 2017


  1. Predicting restoration outcomes requires an understanding of the natural variability of ecosystem properties. A hierarchy of predictability has been proposed that ranks measures of restoration success from most-to-least predictable in the following order: vegetation structure > taxonomic diversity > functional diversity > taxonomic composition. This hierarchy has not been tested empirically, and the location within the hierarchy of trait-based measures, such as community-level trait means and variances, is not well understood.

  2. Our objective was to test the hierarchy of predictability in one of the longest running ecological restoration experiments in the western USA. We used linear mixed effects models to analyse changes in herbaceous biomass, species richness, two functional diversity (FD) indices, community-weighted mean (CWM) traits and taxonomic composition among experimental restoration treatments from 1992 to 2014 in a ponderosa pine-bunchgrass ecosystem. Restoration treatments included combinations of light or heavy tree thinning and no fire or repeated prescribed fire every 4 years to release the herbaceous understorey from overstorey competition.

  3. Herbaceous biomass and species richness were the two most predictable and least variable measures of success, whereas taxonomic composition exhibited the highest variability among plots through time. Trait-based measures of FD tended to be more predictable and less variable than CWM trait values in this experiment. Both CWM trait values and FD were less variable among plots than taxonomic composition.

  4. Synthesis and applications. Ecosystem properties that are intrinsically more variable over space and time will often be the least predictable restoration outcomes. Restoration practitioners can expect vegetation structure, species richness and functional diversity to be more predictable and less variable than taxonomic composition, which can exhibit dynamic responses to restoration treatments over time. Monitoring dominant native and invasive species will always be important, but given the functional redundancy that can occur within communities, strict targets based on composition may rarely be met. Trait-based metrics that integrate taxonomic composition into their calculation are less variable and potentially more meaningful for evaluating ecosystem responses. The hierarchy of predictability should be tested in a range of ecosystems to determine its generality.

Drought and Invasive Species

Drought creates the potential for invasive plant species to increase in diversity and abundance in a variety of ecosystems, often mediated by the occurrence of disturbances (wildfire, insect outbreaks).  Because the frequency and magnitude of droughts will increase in a warmer climate, scientific information on drought effects is needed to inform management and planning to ensure long-term sustainability of forest and rangeland ecosystems. This webinar will explore (1) current issues related to the effects of drought on invasive species, (2) examples of drought-related impacts on ecosystems, and (3) management options for increasing resilience.

Draft Agenda

2:00 Introduction
Cynthia West (Director, Office of Sustainability and Climate) and [insert name of other WO staff, tbd)
2:10 Drought, wildfire, and invasive plant species in Western forests
Jon Keeley (U.S. Geological Survey, Three Rivers, CA)
2:30 Questions and Answers
2:35 Drought and invasive plant species in Eastern forests
Cynthia Huebner (U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Morgantown, WV)
2:55 Questions and Answers
3:00 Wicked problems: drought and invasive annual grasses
Louisa Evers (Bureau of Land Management, Portland, OR)
3:20 Questions and Answers
3:30 Conclude

How to join the webinar?

Audio Conference Line: 1-877-369-5243
Access Code: 0368706#
WO Meeting Room: Civilian Conservation Corps (PNW04)
Questions? Contact Lois Ziemann, lziemann@fs.fed.us

A recording of the webinar will be available upon its conclusion at the webinar link shown above.


Joint Fire Science Program Smoke Science Plan Conclusion: Smoke Science Accomplishments Under the Plan

Authored by A.R. Riebau; Published 2017

The Smoke Science Plan (SSP) was the guidance and organizational tool of the Joint Fire Science Program for smoke research from 2011 until 2016. It helped to guide the funding and management of 41 research and development projects under four thematic areas. Since its inception in 2011, 29 smoke science projects have been funded. An additional 12 legacy projects, addressing research needs identified in the SSP, were added to the portfolio for a total of 41 projects considered as part of the SSP.

Fire Science Exchange Network

Authored by C. Haskell; Published 2017

The Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) Fire Science Exchange Network is a national collaboration of 15 regional fire science exchanges that provides the most relevant, current wildland fire science information to federal, state, local, tribal, and private stakeholders within ecologically similar regions. The network brings fire managers, practitioners, and scientists together to address regional fire management needs and challenges.

National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop

The theme of the second annual workshop is “Making a Difference–Building Capacity, Improving Preparedness, and Learning from Experience.” IAWF is presenting the workshop in partnership with WFLC and the Western, Southeast and Northeast Regional Strategy Committees.

Information: http://www.iawfonline.org/2nd_CohesiveStrategyWorkshop2018/

Status update: is smoke on your mind? Using social media to assess smoke exposure

Authored by B. Ford; Published 2017

Exposure to wildland fire smoke is associated with negative effects on human health. However, these effects are poorly quantified. Accurately attributing health endpoints to wildland fire smoke requires determining the locations, concentrations, and durations of smoke events. Most current methods for assessing these smoke events (ground-based measurements, satellite observations, and chemical transport modeling) are limited temporally, spatially, and/or by their level of accuracy. In this work, we explore using daily social media posts from Facebook regarding smoke, haze, and air quality to assess population-level exposure for the summer of 2015 in the western US. We compare this de-identified, aggregated Facebook dataset to several other datasets that are commonly used for estimating exposure, such as satellite observations (MODIS aerosol optical depth and Hazard Mapping System smoke plumes), daily (24 h) average surface particulate matter measurements, and model-simulated (WRF-Chem) surface concentrations. After adding population-weighted spatial smoothing to the Facebook data, this dataset is well correlated (R2 generally above 0.5) with the other methods in smoke-impacted regions. The Facebook dataset is better correlated with surface measurements of PM2. 5 at a majority of monitoring sites (163 of 293 sites) than the satellite observations and our model simulation. We also present an example case for Washington state in 2015, for which we combine this Facebook dataset with MODIS observations and WRF-Chem-simulated PM2. 5 in a regression model. We show that the addition of the Facebook data improves the regression model's ability to predict surface concentrations. This high correlation of the Facebook data with surface monitors and our Washington state example suggests that this social-media-based proxy can be used to estimate smoke exposure in locations without direct ground-based particulate matter measurements.

Wildland Urban Interface 2018

Pre-conference events will also take place February 24-27. 
For more information: https://www.iafc.org/wui

Sustainability and wildland fire: The origins of Forest Service Wildland Fire Research

Authored by D.M. Smith; Published 2017

On June 1, 2015, the Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Branch of Research. Established in 1915 to centralize and elevate the pursuit of research throughout the agency, the Branch of Research focused on everything from silvicultural investigations conducted by the experiment stations to industrial studies and wood product improvement at the Madison, WI, Forest Products Laboratory. From its beginning, the branch oversaw ongoing research designed to develop insights, methods, and technologies to help foresters and land managers better understand, prevent, and suppress wildland fire.

NWFSC Research Brief #14: Engagement Strategies: Helping Facilitate Development & Implementation of Adaptation Options

Authored by N.W.Fire Scien Consortium; Published 2017

In this paper, the authors describe an approach to facilitate development and implementation of climate change adaptation options in forest management which they applied to a case study area in southwestern Oregon, USA. Their approach relied on participation of local specialists across multiple organizations to establish a science–manager partnership, development of climate change education in multiple formats, hands-on development of adaptation options, and application of tools to incorporate climate change in planned projects.