Presenter: Dr. Erica Smithwick, Penn State
Cohosted by the North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange and Oak Woodlands & Forests Fire Consortium
Abstract: Firescapes of the mid-Atlantic, U.S.A. are understudied relative to other ecosystems in the United States. Yet, they harbor high levels of wildland-urban interface, have a tight intermingling of land ownerships, and reflect substantial regional heterogeneity in burning histories and fire hazard. Moreover, mid-Atlantic fire practitioners increasingly seek guidance for understanding community perceptions of managed fire implementation to meet a variety of land management objectives including hazard reduction, restoration, and biodiversity. Here, I describe an interdisciplinary project using FVS modeling, post-fire observations, economic modeling, surveys, and focus groups to better understand the interactions between ecosystems’ need for fire, community perceptions, and management challenges. Our results highlight both barriers and opportunities for managed fire implementation in the region, identifying critical mismatches between ecosystems, communities, and managers. These include mismatches between ecologically desirable fire frequencies and agency planning horizons, scale mismatches that preclude regional-level coordination, community-manager variability in the perceived concerns and benefits, and mismatched integration of forest user benefits into fire planning. Collectively, these mismatches offer opportunities for better alignment of multi-scalar, multi-objective decision making in the context of landscape-level fire management.
Society of American Foresters and The Wildlife Society continuing education credit anticipated