California Fire Science Seminar Series
Presenter: Courtney Schultz, Professor of Forest and Natural Resource Policy, Colorado State University
Extensive wildfires across the US West and their dramatic effects for ecosystems, human health, and livelihoods have focused national attention on the need to dramatically improve in the immediate future both forest management and community preparedness. For the management of fire-adapted forests, the message from the scientific community is clear: we must learn to live with fire, pursue accelerated fuels reduction and forest restoration through thinning and prescribed burning, focus our work in the WUI and also consider changes to building codes and land use patterns, and, during incident response, move away from an emphasis on suppression when possible. Yet, changes to fire management outcomes have been elusive, necessitating investigation into the policy, politics, and governance of fire management to understand how to advance change. In this talk, I will discuss our work over the last several years understanding the barriers and opportunities specifically for increasing prescribed fire application on federal lands, focusing on lessons learned from case studies of forests that have grown their prescribed fire programs in recent years. I will look at cross-case themes as to the factors that impede the application of prescribed fire and facilitate its use. I use these lessons to draw broader implications about the path forward for improving fire management.