Sponsors: Northern Rockies Fire Science Network, Sustainable NW & NW Fire Science Consortium
Presenters and research team include: Andrew Larson, C. Alina Cansler, Derek Churchill, Sean Geronimo, Paul Hessburg Sr., Van Kane, Jim Lutz, and Nicholas Povak.
Landscapes of the Inland West are deeply affected by 100+ years of fire exclusion, the loss of indigenous burning, and expansion and densification of many forests. Today, anthropogenic climate change and wildfires are modifying the structure and composition of forests across the West at rates that far exceed adaptation and restorative treatments. Fires that occur during the forest planning process can delay project implementation for years, further hindering the pace of restoration activities. Landscape evaluations and prescriptions are needed so that managers can assess the work of wildfires on affected landscapes; the topic of this webinar.
Wildfire effects can be beneficial: reducing fuel loads and fuel ladders, enhancing climate and wildfire resistant species composition and structure, and creating complex early-seral habitats. However, recent wildfires are creating uncharacteristically large high-severity patches compared with historical low and mixed-severity fires. In addition, wildfires increase future fuel loads that can create increase severity of future fires.
The convergence of these events underscores the need of managers to intentionally evaluate the “work of wildfires” to determine where they have aided or hampered adaptive and restorative management. Where they have aided, follow up treatments can be implemented that carry forward a good beginning; where they have hindered, managers can plan to rehabilitate those portions of the landscape to be climate change adapted and forested once again.