An interdisciplinary discussion about fire/fuels science and management
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): Leslie Bahn; Vita Wright; Genie MontBlanc; Andrea E. Thode
Editor(s): Samantha Weber
Publication Year: 2012

Cataloging Information

  • collaborative research
  • fire science
  • fuels management
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: December 13, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 13129


Fire and fuels management have become increasingly challenging in the last three decades due to climate change, invasive species, urbanization and development, increased land use, and the effects of these factors on fire size and frequency (Westerling et al. 2007; D'Antonio and Vitousek 1992). Often, the science and information needed to carry out best management practices are lacking or difficult to find (Simpson 2009; Wright 2004). Fires do not stop burning at jurisdictional boundaries, and land managers must work with the complexities of differing agency missions, policies, resource values, social concerns, and costs (U.S. Congress 2009). To address these challenges, many agencies and organizations have begun to adopt collaborative efforts to increase communication and share resources. These partnerships and interactions can be a cost-effective method of achieving collective goals in natural resource management (Lubell et al. 2002; Prell et al. 2008). Such efforts include the Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) network of knowledge exchange consortia. This network of regional consortia aims to connect managers and researchers within contiguous ecological regions (JFSP 2010). Participating regional consortia conducted needs assessments for fire managers during summer and fall 2009. The results of these needs assessments indicated that a common hurdle to implementing best management practices stems from the different perceptions of information consumers (resource managers) and information producers (researchers), as well as a lack of interdisciplinary and interagency communication (Kocher et al., forthcoming). The challenges of working in an interdisciplinary environment were illustrated during a recent study of influences on the success of fire science delivery. Asked about barriers to the use of science, National Park Service (NPS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fire managers often cited the different perspectives of resource managers as a barrier. For example, one fire manager explained, 'And many of us are also, compared to the natural resource culture, doers. The natural resource culture in the Park Service, most of their job has been to stop things from happening. To protect the resources. And fire people, in contrast to that, are 'let's go get something done.'' (V. Wright, unpublished data). Building relationships and two-way communication so that both managers and researchers across a range of disciplines have input into information generation, and improved access to results, will be important to the success of interdisciplinary interactions in fire and resource management. The 'Interdisciplinary Discussion About Fire/Fuels Science and Management' sharing circle at the George Wright Society (GWS) Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites on March 14, 2011, was organized to facilitate dialogue about interactions between managers and researchers, as well as interdisciplinary communication among managers. This paper summarizes the two-hour discussion.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (91 KB; pdf)
Bahn, Leslie; Wright, Vita; Montblanc, Eugenie; Thode, Andrea. 2012. An interdisciplinary discussion about fire/fuels science and management. In: Weber, Samantha, editor. Rethinking Protected Areas in a Changing World: Proceedings of the 2011 George Wright Society Biennial Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites. Hancock, Michigan: The George Wright Society. p. 26-31.