Impacts of Thinning and Burning in Spotted Owl Habitat

Date: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 12pm MST
Presenter: Quentin Hays, Eastern New Mexico University

Registration coming soon!

This webinar is co-hosted by The Wildlife Society, Southwest Section




Mixed Conifer Forest Ecology: Emerging Science- November 10, 2015

Panel presentation with: Kyle Rodman, Judy Springer, Amy Waltz and Andrew Sanchez Meador

This webinar was co-sponsored by the SWFSC and the Ecological Restoration Institute

The Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University presented four studies from on-going research in mixed conifer habitat across northern and eastern Arizona. The mixed conifer forests studied evolved with frequent fire, and have seen changes in tree densities, tree composition, and spatial patterns since widespread exclusion of fire in the Southwest as early as the 1870s (Rodman presentation).  Treatments that thin trees and select for fire-resilient species impact the understory (Springer presentation) and influence stand resiliency to uncharacteristic fire (Waltz presentation). On-going studies on the federal landscape will test effects of multiple treatment types in mixed conifer forests, including restoration treatments and Mexican Spotted Owl recovery plan habitat treatments (Sanchez Meador presentation). View a recording of this webinar here.

Local Ecological Knowledge and Fire Management: What Does the Public Understand?- October 21, 2015

Presenter:  John Diaz, North Carolina State University

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. View a recording of this webinar here. A pdf of the presentation is available here.

Immediate post-wildfire effects on bats in the Southwest- September 22, 2015

Presenters:  Erin Saunders Northern Arizona University and U.S. Forest Service, and Carol Chambers, Northern Arizona University

Ponderosa pine forests in the southwestern U.S. have increased in density over the last 100 years which has dramatically increased the size and frequency of wildfires. Although wildfires rarely kill animals, they have immediate consequences to bat populations by drastically altering vegetation and thus roosting and foraging opportunities. Because no studies in the Southwest documented effects of wildfire on bats, we examined how the bat assemblage responded to changes in vegetation structure and described roosting habitat used by reproductive female bats. Our study was conducted 2 and 3 years following the 538,000 acre Wallow Fire that burned in eastern Arizona in 2011. We used mist-netting at water sites and acoustic sampling throughout the Wallow Fire to address our objectives and collected data from June to August in 2013 and 2014.  Three years post-wildfire, species richness was lower at water sites surrounded by high-burn severity (>50% basal area removed) compared to low-burn severity. In low-burn severity areas where ≤50% basal area was removed, call rates were highest for slow, maneuverable bats that echolocate at high-frequencies (>30 kHz). In high-burn severity areas, call rates were highest for bats that echolocate at low-frequencies, are fast fliers, and use open-air hawking. Ponderosa pine snag roosts (n = 50) located for 6 bat species were larger in diameter, with peeling bark, more decayed, and with less bark remaining on the snag compared to randomly-selected snags. Bats used snags with up to 100% bole burn, although one species, Arizona myotis (Myotis occultus), selected ponderosa pine snags with less burn (<18% bole burn). The bat assemblage appeared to be declining over time and thus in this short-term study, wildfire appears to be having a negative temporal effect. Some species may adapt to temporal changes caused by wildfire but others that appear sensitive to high-severity fire, like the Arizona myotis, may not.  Species that use fire-killed trees will encounter a pulse of roost structures for up to 10 years post-fire until snags fall; it may then take hundreds of years for forests to provide snags large enough for bat use. In the long-term, habitat for bats will decline if we cannot manage forests to reduce large, high-severity wildfires in the Southwest. Click here to view a recording of this webinar.

*This webinar was jointly sponsored by the Southwest Fire Science Consortium and the Southwest Section of The Wildlife Society

Climate change and fire in the Southwest – August 26, 2015

Presenter:  Larissa Yocom, Northern Arizona University

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. Click here to view a recording of this webinar.

This webinar is based off the SWFSC working paper of the same name. You can download it here.

Connecting resilience science with decision-making: Guidelines for the effective development and application of scientific information – July 8, 2015

Presenter:  Melanie Colavito, University of Arizona

This webinar describes the results of a study that sought to identify barriers and opportunities to the use of scientific information about resilience for decision-making and on-the-ground management. Data for this study was collected from interviews that were conducted with scientists, managers, and other stakeholders following “Fostering resilience in Southwestern ecosystems: A problem solving workshop”, which was held in Tucson, Arizona, in February 2014. Results are organized according to four major themes: application of scientific information, development of scientific information, communication of scientific information, and scientific information needs. Recommendations for effectively connecting resilience science with decision-making are also provided. Click here to view a recording of this webinar!

Presentation pdf available here.

The Southwest Fire Season: 2014 Overview and 2015 Outlook – May 12, 2015

Presenter:  Zander Evans, Forest Guild and Chuck Maxwell, Predictive Services

Please join us for a webinar to review last year’s fires and look ahead toward conditions for this year. Dr. Zander Evans will present an overview of the 12 largest fires in the Southwest during 2014. He will share summaries of forest types and burn severities for each of the 12 fires. In addition, Chuck Maxwell, meteorologist with Predictive Services, will discuss the outlook this year for the Southwest. If you are not familiar with Predictive Services modelling methods, please click here to review the video on their methodology.

Click here to view a recording of this webinar now!

Effects of climate variability and accelerated thinning on watershed-scale runoff in Southwestern ponderosa pine forests – April 15, 2015

Presenter: Marcos Robles, The Nature Conservancy

The recent mortality of up to 20% of forests and woodlands in the southwestern United States, along with declining stream flows and projected future water shortages, heightens the need to understand how management practices can enhance forest resilience and functioning under unprecedented scales of drought and wildfire. To address this challenge, a combination of mechanical thinning and fire treatments are planned for 238,000 hectares (588,000 acres) of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests across central Arizona, USA. Mechanical thinning can increase runoff at fine scales, as well as reduce fire risk and tree water stress during drought, but the effects of this practice have not been studied at scales commensurate with recent forest disturbances or under a highly variable climate. Modifying a historical runoff model, we constructed scenarios to estimate increases in runoff from thinning ponderosa pine at the landscape and watershed scales based on driving variables: pace, extent and intensity of forest treatments and variability in winter precipitation. We found that runoff on thinned forests was about 20% greater than unthinned forests, regardless of whether treatments occurred in a drought or pluvial period. The magnitude of this increase is similar to observed declines in snowpack for the region, suggesting that accelerated thinning may lessen runoff losses due to warming effects. Gains in runoff were temporary (six years after treatment) and modest when compared to mean annual runoff from the study watersheds (0-3%). Nonetheless gains observed during drought periods could play a role in augmenting river flows on a seasonal basis, improving conditions for water-dependent natural resources, as well as benefit water supplies for downstream communities. Results of this study and others suggest that accelerated forest thinning at large scales could improve the water balance and resilience of forests and sustain the ecosystem services they provide. Click here to watch a recording of this webinar now!

For a link to the abstract/full article, click here.

Tamarisk invasion and fire in Southwestern desert ecosystems –April 2, 2015

Presenter: Gail Drus, St. Francis University

Increased wildfire has been observed with the displacement of native cottonwood-willow (Salix and Populus spp.) gallery forests by invasive, non-native tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) in desert riparian zones of North America. Greater post-fire recovery of Tamarix relative to native species suggests a Tamarix fire trajectory where repeated fire excludes native riparian species. This work synthesizes several experiments and addresses 2 questions: 1) Is there a positive feedback between Tamarix and fire intensity that excludes native vegetation? 2) Can the Tamarix fire trajectory be altered to allow the coexistence of natives? Click here to watch a recording of this webinar now!

Fire and climate history of the western San Juan Mountains, Colorado: Integration of tree-ring and alluvial-sediment methods –February 2015

Presenter: Erica Bigio, University of Arizona

This webinar presents research on the historical fire regimes of the western San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado, where the landscape provided a unique opportunity to sample tree-ring and alluvial-sediment records in the same study sites. Knowledge of historical fire regimes (frequency, size, severity) can help support management plans to reduce forest densities and increase resiliency of forest stands to current and future climate changes. We collected tree-ring data from three watersheds and evaluated the influence of aspect and fire barriers on fire frequency and severity, as well as, the influence of regional climate on historical fire events. Sediment-based reconstructions from the valley bottoms illustrated several peaks in fire activity over the past ~2,500 years, representing an increased proportion of high-severity fire during certain climatic periods. We associated these peaks in fire activity with severe drought episodes, which were often preceded by two – three decades of wet conditions. In summary, our study shows that future drought and warming temperatures have the potential to increase the frequency and severity of fires, given the abundant fuel loads in pine-dominated forest types in this landscape. Click here to view a recording of this webinar!

The Ability of Wildfire to Act as a Fuel Treatment –January 2015

Presenter: Sean Parks, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, Rocky Mountain Research Station, U.S. Forest Service

In partnership with the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network, Sean will present the results from a JSFP-funded study that highlights the ability of wildfire to act as a fuel treatment. This study evaluated whether or not wildfires limited the occurrence, size, and severity of subsequent wildfires in four large wilderness complexes in Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico. Our focus on protected areas was intended to minimize anthropogenic factors that may affect fire behavior and effects (e.g., roads and fuel treatments). Results suggest that 1) wildfires reduce the probability that subsequent fires will ignite and spread, 2) wildfires reduce the size of subsequent fires by acting as fuel breaks, and 3) the severity of subsequent fires is significantly lower in areas that have recently burned compared to areas that have not. The strength and longevity of the moderating effect vary by study area, suggesting that ecosystem-level processes controlling fire regime characteristics and regrowth of vegetation are responsible for these differences. Click here to watch a recording of this webinar NOW!

Working Across Fence Lines: Multijurisdictional planning and prescribed fire –November 2014

Presenter: Eytan Krasilovsky, Forest Guild

Fire cuts across administrative boundaries and our restoration work needs to as well. Whether it is multijurisdictional planning or multiagency prescribed burning, working across boundaries presents a unique set of challenges. In this webinar, Eytan Krasilovksy will discuss multijurisdictional NEPA planning in the Rio Trampas watershed and this year’s multiagency controlled burn near Black Lake, New Mexico. We encourage participants to bring their own examples and share their lessons learned during the discussion period. Click here to watch webinar recording!

Smoke Forecasting Tools: A Case Study in Air Quality Response –October 2014

Presenter: Ron Sherron, U.S. Forest Service

This webinar is recommended for those participating in the “Wildland fire smoke in the air- What does it mean to ME?” workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico November 6-8, 2014. Click here to watch a recording of this webinar NOW!

Fire management in the Gila National Forest and Saguaro National Park –September 2014

Presenter: Molly Hunter- Northern Arizona University

Fire suppression has been the dominant fire management strategy in the West over the last century. However, managers in the Gila National Forest and Saguaro National Park have allowed fire to play a more natural role for decades. In a newly published report, we summarize the effects of these fire management practices on key resources, document common challenges in implementing these practices, and provide lessons for how to address those challenges. Click here to see the full report. Click here to watch a recording of this webinar NOW!

A panel perspective on regeneration in Southwest pine forests after high severity wildfire –August 2014

Panelists: Pete Fulé- Northern Arizona University, Collin Haffey- USGS Jemez Field Station, José Iniguez and Suzanne Owen- USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, Jim Youtz- USFS Southwestern Region, Joy Mast- Carthage College

The Southwest Fire Science Consortium is hosting a panel discussion on regeneration of pine forests after high severity wildfires. Recent fires such as the 2011 Las Conchas Fire have created large (> 10,000 acres) patches where high severity fire killed all trees and limited the seed source for returning pine trees to the area. These large patches have raised the fear that uncharacteristic fires may convert large areas of pine forest to other vegetation such as oak brush. The goal of the webinar is to foster discussion about post-fire regeneration and help identify what the existing research indicates, what projects currently underway will contribute, and what research questions need to be addressed. The webinar will start with brief presentations by a range of researchers and experts on the topic. To watch a recording of this webinar, click here!

People, fire, and insects: Three centuries of disturbance interactions along an ecological gradient of the Pinaleño Mountains, Arizona –June 2014

Presenter: Kit O’Connor, University of Arizona

In the Pinaleño Mountains of Southeast Arizona, a series of high-severity insect outbreaks and fires in recent decades appear to be unprecedented in the historical record.  These disturbances raise concerns about forest resilience and long-term sustainability of one of the most ecologically diverse landscapes in the southwest.  We used detailed reconstructions of forest successional dynamics, disturbance processes, and climate variability over more than 350 years to provide context for recent disturbances, to identify specific conditions of concern, and to provide some recommendations on future management actions. Please join us for this unique in-depth study of the biogeography of an Arizona Sky Island that has been altered by more than a century of fire exclusion and a series of complex interactions among natural and anthropogenic ecosystem processes. To watch a recording of this webinar, click here now!

A resilience ecology framework for southwestern forests: Ecosystem shifts, landscape disturbance and climate change –May 2014

Presenter: Donald Falk, University of Arizona

In this webinar, Dr. Don Falk will review the basic concepts of ecological resilience as it applies to fire-adapted ecosystems in the Southwest. He will discussion how these concepts apply to the challenge of maintaining resilience in a rapidly changing world. Lastly, he will explore how maintaining resilience can become a central objective in land management, and what managers can do to enhance the resilience of the ecosystems of which they are stewards. To watch the recording, click here!

The southwest fire season: 2013 overview and 2014 outlook –April 2014

Presenters: Zander Evans (Forest Guild) and Chuck Maxwell (Southwest Predictive Services)

This webinar provided an overview of the eight largest fires in the Southwest during 2013 based on the recent report from ERI and SWFSC. The webinar included summaries of forest types and burn severities for each of the eight fires. In addition, Chuck Maxwell, meteorologist with Predictive Services, discussed what the outlook is this year for the Southwest. If you are not familiar with Predictive Services modeling methods, please review the video on their methodology. To watch a recording of this webinar, click here!

Identifying Priority Treatment Areas Across the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests –March 2014

Presenter: Joe Crouse, Ecological Restoration Institute

To address concerns regarding how to prioritize treatments across the forests, the Ecological Restoration Institute received funding from the USDA Forest Service to identify priority treatment areas across the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. In addition, Forest Service personnel stated a need to identify areas within the Wallow Fire perimeter that remain vulnerable to uncharacteristic wildfire.  Existing Forest Service spatial data layers (Mid-scale vegetation diameter class, species and canopy cover) were used to identify restoration opportunity areas. Additional data layers (topography, land management designation, Wildland Urban Interface) were added to the analysis to identify priority restoration areas on the landscape. There are more than 133,000 acres within the Wallow fire perimeter that consist of priority restoration vegetation which experienced ≤50% basal area mortality and were thus deemed as continuing to be vulnerable to uncharacteristic wildfire. Less than half of this falls within the WUI boundary. To watch the recording, click here!

What is Climate Change? How will our changing climate impact seasonal weather conditions across the Southwest? – February 2014 (as pre-work for resiliency workshop)

Presenters: Darren McCollum and Robert Bohlin, National Weather Service meteorologists

To view a pdf of their presentation, click here
To watch the webinar recording, click here

Restoring Composition and Structure in Southwestern Frequent-Fire Forests: A science-based framework for improving ecosystem resiliency – February 2014 (as pre-work for resiliency workshop)

Presenters: Richard Reynolds, Andrew Sánchez Meador, James Youtz, Tessa Nicolet, Megan Matonis, Patrick Jackson, Donald DeLorenzo, Andrew Graves (based on RMRS-GTR-310)

To watch the webinar recording, click here…

Black Lake Prescribed Burn: Lessons Learned in Building Capacity for Prescribed Fire – January 2014

Presenter: Eytan Krasilovsky, Forest Guild

Eytan Krasilovsky will share challenges and lessons learned surrounding the Forest Guild’s recent Black Lake Training Exchange. Forest Guild and the New Mexico State Land Office, with support from the Nature Conservancy’s Fire Learning Network, convened a grant funded training exchange to burn 900 acres of state trust lands in a wildland-urban interface in northern New Mexico. Funded by the USDA Forest Service’s Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, a diverse cadre of local and national firefighters was convened for 5 days and was comprised of both experienced and first-time firefighters. The after-action reviews contributed to meaningful lessons learned for the parties involved but also for those interested in implementing collaborative burning efforts elsewhere. Click here to watch a recording of the webinar!  Click here to download presentation.

Cooperative Burning and Training Exchanges – December 2013

Presenter: Jeremy Bailey, TNC/FLN

Jeremy Bailey, a career firefighter and prescribed fire burn boss, will discuss the Fire Learning Network’s Training Exchange program and how it is being used to train numerous local workforces to advance burning across all lands. In the past seven years, these training exchanges have been deployed on federal, state and private lands, bringing together federal, state and private firefighters of all skill levels. They also integrate scientists, researchers, local land managers and cultural aspects of fire to bring more “good fire” to the landscape. Due to technical difficulties, a recording of this webinar is unavailable. Jeremy’s powerpoint presentation can be downloaded here.

The Role of Fire in Shortgrass Rangelands – November 2013

Presenter: David Augustine, USDA-ARS Landscape Ecologist

In this webinar, we will discuss research on the role and use of prescribed fire in the western Great Plains, focusing on studies conducted in the shortgrass steppe of Colorado over the past decade. We will discuss the fuel loads and weather conditions under which prescribed burning has been possible (including considerations of drought versus wet years), and associated fire temperatures. We will then examine the ecological role of prescribed burning in terms of effects on cattle grazing distribution and production, differential effects on herbaceous plants versus cactus and dwarf shrub species, and consequences for grassland bird habitat. We will also discuss differences in the effects of burns conducted in spring versus fall and at varying frequencies. Prescribed burn planning in shortgrass steppe is complex because achieving specific goals while mitigating potential negative effects requires consideration of many variables. Click here to watch a recording of this presentation!

This webinar was Co-hosted with the Great Plains Fire Science Exchange and Southern Rockies Fire Science Network.

Fire Legacy’s role in current and future fire management in the Southwestern U.S. – November 2013

Presenter: Tessa Nicolet, USFS Region 3 Fire Ecologist

The southwestern United States encompasses many ecosystems with intimate and inseparable relationships with fire. It is well accepted that fire plays an integral role in the ecology and maintenance of many forest and grassland types in the southwest. Fire on these landscapes not only shapes how those systems function but long-term fire effects provide for current and future interactions with fire. Focusing specifically on past fire occurrences and how current fires interact with these areas, I provide an overview of management opportunities, fire severity and overall interactions. Burn severities within vegetation types are compared for areas that have experienced documented recent fires versus those area that have not. Fire effects from past fires that are evident in current live and dead fuels conditions increase the decision space for suppression and management strategies and tactics. Results illustrate the importance of fire on these ecosystems not only from an ecological perspective but in the form of opportunities and choices for future fire management. Watch recording here!

How will climate change and treatments affect future forests? Testing alternatives with the Climate-FVS model – September 2013

Presenter: Pete Fulè, Professor, Northern Arizona University

Under current conditions, large, severe wildfires are a fact of life in southwestern ponderosa pine forests. What will burned systems look like over the coming decades under warming climate? Do management treatments make a lasting difference or will climate override their effects? We applied the relatively new feature of the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) called Climate-FVS, which modifies the widely used FVS model to make it simulate effects of climate change. The short answer: climate change has major effects on our test site, the Rodeo-Chediski fire on Arizona’s Mogollon Rim. At the severe end of the climate scale, forests are nearly eliminated. But under more moderate climate change scenarios, management intervention makes a big difference. The strengths and weaknesses of building climate change into forest modeling are important to understand for making informed decisions. Watch recording here!

Authors: Alicia Azpeleta Tarancón, Peter Fulé, Kristen Shive, Carolyn Hull Sieg, Andrew Sánchez Meador, Barbara Strom

Support: Joint Fire Science Program 11-1-1-27, assistance from Ecological Restoration Institute and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Effects of fuel treatments on wildfire severity – August 2013

Presenters: Charlotte Reemts, an Ecologist for the Nature Conservancy and Helen Poulos, Wesleyan University

Charlotte and Helen teamed up to present this webinar that connected science and management of fire in the Davis Mountains of west Texas. Three wildfires burned through the pinyon-juniper-oak forests of the Davis Mountains in 2011 and 2012. Fuel treatments (prescribed fire, thinning, and thinning+prescribed fire) applied before the wildfires reduced fire severity and subsequent tree mortality relative to areas that experienced wildfire alone. Overall tree mortality was still high, due partly to drought conditions at the time of the fires. Watch recording here!

Effects of Wildland Fire on Lowland Leopard Frogs and their Habitat at Saguaro National Parks – June 2013

Presenter: Don Swann, Saguaro National Park
Don Swann is a biologist at Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona, where he has worked for more than 20 years. He has an MS in Wildlife and Fisheries from University of Arizona. Don’s projects include collaborative research and long-term monitoring of saguaros, desert tortoises, mammals using wildlife cameras, and inventories of reptiles and amphibians. He has been the lead on monitoring and management of lowland leopard frogs at the park since 1996.

Large wildfires can have dramatic watershed effects, including sedimentation of aquatic habitat that have the potential to impact stream species such as fish and frogs. In arid systems it may take years, even decades, for sediments to wash out from downstream areas. This talk will present an overview of the long-term interaction between wildfires and aquatic species in Arizona, with a particular focus on the lowland leopard frog in Saguaro National Park’s Rincon Mountain District. We have been monitoring leopard frog populations, sediment, and water availability since 1996, including in streams where a high percentage of the watershed burned in 1999 and 2003 as well as streams where no fires occurred. The talk will also discuss pre- and post-fire management options for fire and aquatic frogs and other species. Watch recording here!

The structure of fire size distributions: a broad view of interacting gradients in wilderness management, spatial climate, and topography in three western regions – May 2013

Presenter: Sandra Haire, Haire Laboratory for Landscape Ecology
Determining the effects of land management on fire regime characteristics is complicated by the interaction of several factors that vary in space and time. First, fire size and frequency are linked to climate conditions, including drought, as well as wind and temperature that define weather conditions during burning. Second, topography and fuels influence ignition locations, fire spread, and behavior which play a role in determining fire frequency and size of individual fire events. Last, and importantly, comprehensive records that quantify where and when various management practices including fire suppression and other strategies occurred are not available at regional scales. Given these challenges, we designed our study to examine the scaling of fire size distributions from 1984-2007 along a “wilderness gradient” in three regions: the Southwest, Northern Rockies, and Sierra Nevada. We constructed the gradient to reflect our expectation that fire size distributions in wilderness interiors, or core areas, had the greatest likelihood of being influenced by natural burning practices. Our expectation was met in one region, but not in the other two. The importance of large fires in structuring fire size distributions decreased in wilderness interiors of the Southwest, but the opposite trend was observed in the other two regions. In both the Sierra Nevada and the Southwest, several variables limited the role of large fires across the wilderness gradient. In contrast, topographic and climate/fuel variables worked in concert to increase the importance of large fires in the Northern Rockies. The unique climatic, topographic, and ecosystem characteristics of each region provided a useful context for understanding the dynamics of fire size distributions and important differences among geographic regions. In this webinar, I present our findings with the goal of painting a picture of the multiple, interacting influences which shape fire size distributions within and around western wilderness. Watch recording here!

Impacts of fire hazard assessment and fuel reduction priorities on mega-fire outcomes: A hypothetical test using the Wallow Fire in Arizona– April 2013

Presenter: Amy Waltz, Program Director of Science Delivery, Ecological Restoration Institute
Uncharacteristically large and severe wildfires, or mega-fires, are occurring with increasing frequency over the last decades in the western United States. The 2011 Wallow Fire, a 538,049-acre (217,740-hectare) fire in the conifer forests of eastern Arizona, provided the opportunity to compare the effectiveness of different hypothetical treatment scenarios at reducing fire effects. To evaluate how treatment scenarios based on different values at risk influence landscape-level fire effects, we used FlamMap to model fire behavior under the following priority scenarios: 1) 2010 pre-fire conditions; 2) a Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) priority (based on national priorities) where stands with high fire risk (Fire Program Analysis data) within WUI boundaries were “treated” to produce lower canopy cover and crown bulk density and fire models more indicative of open-canopied conifer forests; 3) a “Restoration Opportunity” priority, where forests stands in frequent-fire systems that exhibited closed canopy and high tree densities occurring across the landscape were treated as above; and 4) a scenario that represented a blend of 2 and 3. Key findings included:  1) Fuel reduction treatments were effective at reducing fire behavior and reducing risk to prioritized values like communities. 2) WUI-only treatments resulted in large, contiguous areas with unchanged crowning potential across the pre-treatment landscape. Continuous fuels in uncharacteristically high loadings continued to support active and passive crowning in 20,000 – 40,000-acre (~8,000 – ~16,000 hectare) blocks with potential losses to ecological integrity in forests adapted to more frequent fire conditions. 3) Fuel reduction treatments simulated at broader scales had bigger impacts on overall reduction of crown fire within the Wallow Fire perimeter. The continued investment of the majority of treatments in the WUI does provide protection for communities; however, our results suggest this strategy alone will not solve continuing ecological degradation from uncharacteristically severe fire on the greater landscape. Watch the recording here!

The Fire Season Outlook for 2013 and How it’s Built– March 2013

Presenter: Chuck Maxwell (Fire Meteorologist, Southwest Coordination Center, Predictive Services)
Chuck Maxwell will discuss how Predictive Services develops seasonal fire potential predictions and what the outlook is this year for the Southwest.  Join this webinar to get an inside view of the data and methods that go into fire season predictions, and equally important where the greatest uncertainty is. The webinar will also walk through the outlook for this year’s fire season and include time for questions and answers. Watch recording here!

Implementing the Mexican spotted owl revised recovery plan: Conducting fire management in owl habitat– February 2013

Presenters: Bill Block (USFS RMRS) and Shaula Hedwall (USFWS)
The Mexican Spotted Owl Recovery Plan, First Revision, was released on December 17, 2012.  The Recovery Team used the best available science to delineate actions we think are required to recover and protect the owl.  This Recovery Plan presents realistic and attainable goals for recovering the owl, involving forest habitat management and vigilant monitoring.  The goals are flexible in that they allow local land managers to make site-specific decisions.  To accomplish the recovery of the Mexican spotted owl, the recovery strategy has five key elements designed to conserve the subspecies throughout its range: 1) protect existing populations; 2) manage for habitat into the future; 3) manage threats; 4) monitor populations and habitats; and, 5) build partnerships to facilitate recovery.  The webinar presentation will briefly summarize all of the components of the plan, but focus on recovery recommendations dealing with fire and fire management. Listen to a recording of this webinar here!

Temperature as a potent driver of regional forest drought stress and tree mortality– January 2013

Presenter: Park Williams
Dr. Williams will discuss his recent work to derive a forest drought-stress index (FDSI) for the southwestern United States using a comprehensive tree-ring data set representing AD 1000–2007. This FDSI is linked to measures of forest productivity, mortality, bark-beetle outbreak and wildfire. If climate models are accurate, the mean forest drought-stress by the 2050s will exceed that of the most severe droughts in the past 1,000 years. Collectively, the results foreshadow twenty-first-century changes in forest structures and compositions, with transition of forests in the southwestern United States, and perhaps water-limited forests globally, towards distributions unfamiliar to modern civilization.  See related publication here. Listen to a recording of this webinar here!

Synthesis of Knowledge of Extreme Fire Behavior for Fire Managers– December 2012

Presenter: Paul Werth
Extreme fire behavior indicates a level of fire behavior characteristics that ordinarily precludes methods of direct control action. One or more of the following is usually involved: high rate of spread, prolific crowning/spotting, presence of fire whirls, and strong convection column. This webinar will summarize the recent JFSP publication  that connects the weather, fuel, and topographic factors that contribute to development of extreme fire behavior.  See related publication here. Listen to a recording of this webinar here!

Wildland Fire in Ecosystems: Effects of Fire on Cultural Resources and Archaeology– November 2012

Presenter: Kevin Ryan
This webinar will provide an introduction to the new edition of the Rainbow series that provides e fire and land management professionals and policy makers with a greater understanding of the value of cultural resource protection and the methods available to evaluate and mitigate risks to cultural resources.
Listen to a recording of this webinar here!

Economics of Ecological Restoration and Hazardous Fuel Reduction Treatments– October 2012

Presenter: Yeon-Su Kim (Northern Arizona University) and Diane Vosick (Ecological Restoration Institute)
What are the economic values of landscape-level ecological restoration and hazardous fuel treatments?  The Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University (ERI) assembled a team of wildland fire economists to conduct a rapid evidence-based assessment, as well as to design a timely and efficient way to answer the emerging questions. In this Webinar, we will present some of our preliminary findings and innovations, not just in addressing the sharp increase in fire suppression costs and damages, but more importantly in enhancing natural resource and ecosystem service values.
Listen to a recording of this webinar here

Social Network Analysis– September 2012

Presenter: Vita Wright (Northern Rockies Fire Science Network)
Recent science communication studies of the federal fire management community suggest managers access research via informal information networks, and that these networks vary by both agency and position. We used a phone survey to understand the informal science communication networks of fire professionals in two of the Joint Fire Science Program’s regional knowledge exchange consortia: the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network and the Southwest Fire Science Consortium. In these two regions, we sampled federal and tribal decision makers, fire management officers, fire ecologists, and fuels specialists to determine: 1) who they go to for scientific information about fuels or fire effects science, 2) why they go to these individuals, and 3) how they communicate with these individuals. Informal science communication networks varied by both professional position and information type (fuels vs. fire effects), with fuels specialists being universally important informants about science.  In contrast to a broadcast approach to science communication, a more strategic approach based on understanding the characteristics of fire science communication networks is expected to shorten time lags to diffusion.
Listen to a recording of this webinar here

Fire Regime Condition Class Mapping Tool – July 2012

Presenters: Steve Barrett & Jeff Jones (NIFTT University of Idaho)
The FRCC Mapping Tool quantifies the departure of vegetation conditions and fire regimes from a set of reference conditions representing the historical range of variation. The tool, which operates from an ArcGIS platform, derives several metrics of departure (e.g., vegetation composition and structure, fire severity, and fire frequency) by comparing current conditions to reference conditions. FRCC Mapping Tool outputs can be used to develop management plans and treatment strategies aimed at restoring vegetation conditions and/or disturbance regimes. Learn more at: www.frcc.gov.
Listen to a recording of this webinar here!

Fire Regime Condition Class Concepts – June 2012

Presenter: Kathy Schon (NIFTT University of Idaho)
Fire Regime Condition Class (FRCC) is an interagency, standardized tool for determining the degree of departure from reference condition vegetation structure and composition and fire regimes.
Listen to a recording of this webinar here.

Wildland Fire Assessment Tool – May 2012

Presenters: Eva Strand & Josh Hyde (NIFTT University of Idaho)
WFAT provides an interface between ArcMap, FlamMap 5, and the First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM), combining their strengths into a spatial fire behavior and fire effects analysis tool in GIS. In the webinar, you will learn how to use WFAT to locate potential fuel treatment units, develop a prescription for those units, and evaluate the effect of the proposed treatment on potential fire behavior and fire effects. WFAT saves fire managers the time and effort of converting data between multiple formats for use in ArcMap and FlamMap 5, and gives managers the option of using downloadable LANDFIRE layers as their input GIS layers. Learn more at: www.niftt.gov (see NIFTT Tools and User Documents).
Listen to a recording of this webinar here!

First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM) – April 2012

Presenter: Duncan Lutes (RMRS Fire Modeling Institute, Missoula, MT)
FOFEM is a computer program for predicting first order fire effects including tree mortality, fuel consumption, smoke production, and soil heating caused by prescribed fire or wildfire. In this webinar you will learn about the FOFEM algorithms, how to prepare the input data, run the tool and interpret outputs. Learn more at: www.firelab.org/science-applications/fire-fuel/111-fofem
Listen to a recording of this webinar here!

LANDFIRE Total Fuel Change Tool – March 2012

Presenters: Tobin Smail & Charley Martin (US Geological Survey)
The LANDFIRE Total Fuel Change Tool (LFTFC) allows users to edit LANDFIRE fuels attributes and associated layers directly with an ArcMap Toolbar. This webinar provides an overview of LFTFC’s capabilities to edit and add rule sets for changing fuel attributes based on existing vegetation type (EVT), existing vegetation cover (EVC), existing vegetation height (EVH), biophysical settings (BPS), and disturbance which are GIS layers that are downloadable from LANDFIRE (www.landfire.gov). Fuel characteristics can be updated for both surface and canopy fuels and graphs can be created for easy interpretation.
Listen to a recording of this webinar here!

LANDFIRE Data Access Tool – February 2012

Presenters: Chris Toney (US Forest Service, RMRS/LANDFIRE Project)
Jeff Jones (RMRS Wildland Fire Management RD&A, Whitefish, MT)
The LANDFIRE Data Access Tool (LFDAT) allows users to download LANDFIRE layers from the data distribution site directly into ArcMap. The download extent is defined by the user within ArcMap. The tool allows the user to: Re‐project LANDFIRE data into locally used projections; Create & download a Landscape (lcp) file for use with FlamMap & FARSITE; Deconstruct an lcp file to create individual ArcGrids; and Join attribute data to ArcGrids. In the webinar you will learn how to access, install, and use LFDAT. Learn more at: www.landfire.gov/datatool.php
Listen to a recording of this webinar here!

Hydrologic Impacts of High Severity Wildfire: Learning from the Past & Preparing for the Future – January 2012

Presenter: Dan Neary (RMRS)
Fires are increasing in size, frequency, and severity. Simultaneously, development continues in the wildland-urban interface and the number of people living in or visiting forest areas is growing. Understanding the post-fire hydrologic response of watersheds as observed on the Schultz Fire of 2010, is paramount for effective risk management and mitigation of post-fire hydrologic and geomorphic hazards. Equally important is educating communities that are at high-risk for post-fire flooding and sedimentation hazards. This presentation encompasses research on hydrologic and geomorphic impacts of past fires such as the Schultz Fire, a real-time perspective on recent post-fire hazards and mitigation (including the 2010 Schultz Fire and others) and identifies some high-risk areas where opportunity exists to educate and prepare the public for post-fire hazards before the flames.

Carbon and water balances of southwestern ponderosa pine forests – December 2011

Presenter: Thomas Kolb
In this webinar Dr. Thomas Kolb summarized the key findings of a six-year study of impacts of intense fire and fuel-reduction thinning on the carbon and water balances of ponderosa pine forests in Arizona. The results should be of interest to fire and forest managers and climate change scientists who want more information about impacts of disturbance on forest carbon sequestration, and to water managers and hydrologists who want more information on impacts of forest disturbance on downstream water supply.
Listen to a recording of this webinar here.

Fuel Treatment Effectiveness on the Wallow Fire – October 2011

A small team was assembled to work with the Apache-Sitgreave National Forest and local partners to assess the effects of the fuel treatments and compile a report with the findings. The report “How Fuel Treatments Saved Homes from the 2011 Wallow Fire” was the product of this effort. Personnel from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and the Southwestern Region Office will talk about the effects of fuel treatments and communities affected by the Wallow Fire.

Fire history and age structure patterns at landscape scales – June 2011

Top-down regional climate patterns result in high spatial fire synchrony among Southwest forests. At landscape scales, however bottom-up (topography) patterns are also important in determining fire history and tree age structure variability. The distinct fire histories from these two study areas provided natural age structure experiments that indicated tree age cohorts occurred during periods of reduced fire frequencies. In some instances these periods were likely caused by climatic variability creating synchronous age cohorts across the region. At other times, extended fire intervals were a function of local topography. Overall, these studies demonstrated that landscape and climatic variations combine to produce complex spatial and temporal variations in fire history and tree age structures.

Fuels Treatment Practices for Mixed Conifer Forests in the Southwest – May 2011

The webinar covered the guide’s definition of mixed conifer, past land use and management activities, fire regimes and historic conditions, and impact of altered fire regimes in mixed conifer forests of the southwest. Since Euro-American settlement, many mixed conifer forests have become more homogeneous and can therefore facilitate larger, higher-severity fires than those that occurred historically. Increasing heterogeneity in mixed conifer forests at the landscape scale to approximate historic conditions is important for achieving many management objectives, from fuel reduction to wildlife habitat. Dr. Evans also discussed effectiveness and impacts of different fuels treatment techniques such as prescribed fire, silvicultural treatments, and combinations of cutting and burning in mixed conifer forests. The Guide also draws on interviews with 75 managers and experts and the webinar included the synthesis of their insights into the impediments to management and ways of overcoming them. For example, smoke management and wildlife habitat protections are two common issues that can make treatments more complicated, though not impossible.

Southwest Climate Change Initiative – April 2011

Marcos Robles of the The Nature Conservancy presented information from the Southwest Climate Change Initiative. The Initiative is a collaborative effort started by The Nature Conservancy in 2008 to provide climate science information to natural resource managers in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah so that they can begin responding to climate change. First, Marcos presented the results of a regional climate change assessment where TNC has evaluated the effects of recent temperature change on from 1951-2006 on major habitats and species across Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. Major habitats are current vegetation grouped into plant communities with a common set of dominant plants, regional climate, and disturbance regimes. TNC has also characterize habitats by the number of species of conservation concern that are found within them. Species of conservation concern are those species listed under the Endangered Species Act or those species with a global conservation status of critically imperiled, imperiled or vulnerable. Second, Marcos presented the results from two landscape sites in the Southwest, the Four Forest Restoration Initiative Area in Arizona and the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico, where managers and scientists have initiated planning activities to adjust fire management strategies given what is known about climate change impacts.

Effectiveness of post-fire seeding & herbicide treatments to battle cheatgrass in Zion Nat’l Park – February 2011

Dr. Andrea Thode presenting. Fine fuels from non-native, annual brome grasses have overcome native plants across much of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park. This invasion threatens the single road that provides access into—and escape from—the canyon, creating a threat to human life should a large wildfire occur there. In addition, native riparian plant communities in Zion Canyon have been degraded by non-native plants, and recurrent fire caused by annual grasses could further reduce native plant diversity. Results from this study suggest that burning can have a more lasting effect than annual mowing in reducing fine fuel loads, extending the period between repeated maintenance treatments. When burning is coupled with fall herbicide application, added control can extend the maintenance interval even further through reduction of brome grass density

A Synthesis of the Science on Forests and Carbon for U.S. Forests– July 2010

Dr. Mike Ryan, USDA Forest Service Research Forest Ecologist, presented a scientific synthesis of the forest carbon cycle. The synthesis covers the entire US, but Dr. Ryan focused on the western US for this webinar. Forests play a key role in the carbon cycle and their growth and harvested wood products currently offsets 12-19% of U.S. fossil fuel emissions. The cycle of forest growth, death, and regeneration and the use of wood removed from the forest complicate efforts to understand and measure forest carbon pools and flows. The synthesis explains these processes and examines the science behind mechanisms proposed for increasing the amount of carbon stored in forests and using wood to offset fossil fuel use.

Post-wildfire Seeding: Effectiveness, Trends, Manager Perceptions in Forests across the West– June 2010

Dr. Pete Fule presented results from the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) project synthesizing existing information on post-wildfire seeding (JFSP ID 08-2-1-11). The webinar covered key findings from an evidence-based systematic review conducted to examine the effectiveness and effects of post-fire seeding treatments on soil stabilization and plant community recovery in forested ecosystems in the western U.S. In addition, Pete presented results from a review of U.S. Forest Service Burned Area Reports which the team used to determine overall trends in post-fire seeding from 1970-2009. The team’s work also covered the current perceptions of post-wildfire seeding decisions and activities based on interviews and telephone surveys of fire managers.
Listen to a recording of the webinar here.

Ecological Impact of Mastication – March 2010

We are happy to have Dr. Mike Battaglia present results from the Joint Fire Science Project on the Ecological Impact of Mastication. Mike will report on the impact of mastication on the chemical and physical conditions of the forest floor, vegetation regrowth, and fuel development. The study includes 18 sites across four ecosystems of the southern Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Plateau: lodgepole pine, mixed conifer, ponderosa pine, and piñon– juniper. These sites were distributed Colorado and represent treatments across several federal, state, and other land agencies implemented between 2004 and 2006. Results from the study will help managers understand the impacts of the addition of masticated material on forest ecosystems so that they can evaluate the potential benefits and costs of these treatments.
View the powerpoint presentation from the webinar here.