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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


Evaluation of burn mosaics on subsequent wildfire behavior, severity and fire management strategies

Webinar from Northwest Fire Science Consortium

Susan Prichard, research scientist at the University of WA; Nick Povak, ORISE postdoctoral fellow with USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station; and Paul Hessburg, research landscape ecologist with USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station presented on "Evaluation of burn mosaics on subsequent wildfire behavior, severity and fire management strategies." Watch the video on our YouTube channel.


How does forest recovery following moderate-severity fire influence effects of subsequent wildfire in mixed-conifer forests?

Authored by B.M. Collins; Published 2018

Given regional increases in fire activity in western North American forests, understanding how fire influences the extent and effects of subsequent fires is particularly relevant. Remotely sensed estimates of fire effects have allowed for spatial portioning into different severity categories based on the degree of fire-caused vegetation change. Fire effects between minimal overstory tree mortality (< 20%) and complete (or nearly complete) overstory tree mortality (> 95%) are often lumped into a single category referred to as moderate severity. In this paper, we investigated how burned areas in this broad category of moderate-severity fire fared when reburned by a subsequent fire. Specifically, we examined the influence of forest structure, tree species composition, and shrub cover 9–17 yr following moderate-severity fire on the severity of a subsequent large wildfire event. We used plot-based measurements of trees and shrub cover to develop 15 forest structure and composition variables to attempt to explain observed reburn severity.


Disequilibrium of fire-prone forests sets the stage for a rapid decline in conifer dominance during the 21st century

Authored by J.M. Serra-Diaz; Published 2018

The impacts of climatic changes on forests may appear gradually on time scales of years to centuries due to the long generation times of trees. Consequently, current forest extent may not reflect current climatic patterns. In contrast with these lagged responses, abrupt transitions in forests under climate change may occur in environments where alternative vegetation states are influenced by disturbances, such as fire. The Klamath forest landscape (northern California and southwest Oregon, USA) is currently dominated by high biomass, biodiverse temperate coniferous forests, but climate change could disrupt the mechanisms promoting forest stability (e.g. growth, regeneration and fire tolerance). Using a landscape simulation model, we estimate that about one-third of the Klamath forest landscape (500,000 ha) could transition from conifer-dominated forest to shrub/hardwood chaparral, triggered by increased fire activity coupled with lower post-fire conifer establishment. Such shifts were widespread under the warmer climate change scenarios (RCP 8.5) but were surprisingly prevalent under the climate of 1949–2010, reflecting the joint influences of recent warming trends and the legacy of fire suppression that may have enhanced conifer dominance. Our results demonstrate that major forest ecosystem shifts should be expected when climate change disrupts key stabilizing feedbacks that maintain the dominance of long-lived, slowly regenerating trees.


Burning piles: effects of pile age, moisture, mass, and composition on fire effects, consumption, decomposition

Presenter: Zander Evans, Forest Stewards Guild

Millions of acres of fuels reduction treatments are being implemented each year in the fire adapted forests of the US. Typical these fuel reduction treatments target small diameter trees for removal producing large amounts of unmerchantable woody material and elevating surface fuel loadings. Often this material has no market value and is piled by hand or with heavy machinery and burned on site. We studied replicated experimental pile burns from two locations (Wenatchee, WA and Santa Clara, NM) over three years. We examined the effects of time since construction (i.e., pile age) and burn season (fall and spring) on fuel bed properties, combustion dynamics, fuel consumption, and charcoal formation for hand-constructed piles in thinned ponderosa pine-dominated sites. The webinar will also touch on pile decomposition rates and unplanned fire in areas with piled fuels. 

Click here to register for this webinar NOW! 


Humans modulate fire regimes, forest characteristics, and fire-climate relationships in California Montane Forests

Webinar from OSU pyro-maniacs

Alan is a Professor of Geography and Ecology at Penn State and Associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at The Pennsylvania State University. His research during the last 25 years has focused on the effects and interactions of fire disturbance, climate, and people on forest dynamics at various time scales, and on the influence of understory plants on tree regeneration. Alan presented on "Humans modulate fire regimes, forest characteristics, and fire-climate relationships in California Montane Forests." Watch the video on our YouTube channel.