Fire Science News for the Lake States Region - November 2017

In This Issue

Consortium Staff
Jack McGowan-Stinski
Program Manager

Administrative Committee
The Ohio State University
Eric Toman, PI
David Hix, Co-PI
Michigan State University
Jessica Miesel, Co-PI 
Wayne State University
Dan Kashian, Co-PI 
Greg Corace, Co-PI
USFS Northern Research
Brian Palik, Co-PI
Randy Kolka, Co-PI
University of Idaho
Charles Goebel, Co-PI

Advisory Committee

Jim Barnier, WDNR
Marty Casselius, BIA
Paul Charland, USFWS
BJ Glesener, MN DNR
Steve Goldman, USFS
Matt Graeve, TNC
Andy Henriksen, NRCS
Michele Richards MI NG
Glenn Palmgren, MI DNR
Aaron Stacey, OMNR
Scott Weyenberg, NPS

November 2017:
Volume 8, Issue 11

NOTICE: Rescheduling our December Webinar…

We will be rescheduling our “December 21st  Webinar” to a 2018 date and time TBD – we will send out a new announcement once the new date and time as been scheduled.

This Rescheduled Webinar will be by our three 2017 LSFSC “Intern Program” funding recipients:

  1 - Prescribed burning to improve management for brushland-dependent species.
Collaborating Partners
Dr. Rebecca Montgomery - University of Minnesota
Dr. Lee Frelich - The University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology
Lindsey Shartell - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Charlotte Roy - Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Summary: Lowland brushlands in Minnesota are disturbance-dependent ecosystems that provide habitat for 80 wildlife species on the MN DNR Species in Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) list, nearly half of which are birds. Historically, burns occurred during spring, summer, and fall months, resulting in a characteristic patchy landscape. Current management using prescribed burns limits burning to spring. We are exploring whether burning during summer and fall seasons could benefit different species and help managers meet their goals of reducing brush and maintaining open habitat. The summer intern conducted surveys of breeding birds (point counts) and vegetation (fixed radius plots). In this webinar, I present early results on avian community diversity in lowland brush and compare data before and after burns for bird point counts and vegetation.

2 - Leveraging research and monitoring networks to inform management of at-risk species in the globally rare Pine Barrens ecosystem.
Ryan Raschke - Northland College
Collaborating Partners
Dr. Christel Kern - USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station
Brian Heeringa - USDA Forest Service, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Dr. Sarah Johnson - Northland College

Summary: As evidence for the role of Lepidopteran as indicators of ecosystem health has emerged, resource managers have begun to develop strategies to monitor and manage for moths and butterflies. For instance, the Moquah Pine Barrens of Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) in northern Wisconsin is managed for a range of ecosystem values.  Chryxus Arctic (Oeneis chryxus strigillosa) is one of the indicators of the Moquah Pine Barrens habitat quality and a Regional Forester’s Sensitive Species (RFSS).  Yet, specific management strategies for Chryxus Arctic are not well understood in the region. Thus, we conducted a literature review of O.c. strigulosa in the Great Lakes region and of relevant studies of western subspecies. Our review reveals critical knowledge gaps for the Lake States region, limiting development of appropriate monitoring and conservation strategies. Based on current understanding of food, nectar sources, and habitat requirements, we are developing an index of habitat suitability for O.c. strigulosa, using data from Forest Service research and monitoring databases. By pairing this information with known population occurrences of Chryxus within the Pine Barrens habitat, we aim to provide managers the necessary tools to improve detection, management, and habitat suitability for this rare butterfly.

3 - Reading the rings of red pine to investigate mechanisms of the historic fire regime at Cloquet, Minnesota.
Adam Donaldson - University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Collaborating Partners
Kyle Gill - University of Minnesota Cloquet Forestry Center
Dr. Evan Larson - University of Wisconsin-Platteville

Summary: The past dynamics and drivers of fire are critical to the story told by today’s trees and should inform forest management decisions. For this project, we sampled a direct physical record of pre-European settlement forest fire located at the University of Minnesota’s Cloquet Forestry Center (CFC). Our goal was to create a more spatially and temporally comprehensive understanding of the historical role of fire in the forests of CFC. We sampled 80 fire-scarred red pine stumps, snags, and trees that collectively contained 410 individual fire scars. Tree-ring analysis of these samples produced a fire history spanning the years 1689 to 2017. The record includes 54 distinct fire years with a mean fire return interval (MFRI) of 6 years, with preliminary fire-climate analyses indicating widespread fires occurred during years of regional drought. We analyzed locational information of the fire-scarred samples to determine a coarse estimate of area burned and to explore the spatial dynamics of fire across the relatively contiguous landscape of CFC. Modern fire atlas data for CFC included perimeters of 14 fires that burned during nine fire years from 1910–1932, an MFRI of 3 years. Eleven of these fires were anthropogenic in origin, clearly depicting a recent fire regime influenced by people. Periods of similar fire frequency earlier in the record indicate humans have burned for centuries. We explored historical maps and records to determine the past proximity of human settlements to the study area and human influences on the historical fire regime of CFC.

SAVE-the-DATE for the 2nd Annual Wisconsin Fire Workshop

You can follow updates at this webpage, and we will send out reminders as the agenda and registration is available.

An article relating to our October 2017 Webinar -  
Wildlife implications across snag treatment types in jack pine stands of Upper Michigan.

Shelby A. Weiss, R. Gregory Corace III, Eric L. Toman, Daniel A. Herms, P. Charles Goebel
Standing dead trees, or snags, represent post-disturbance biological legacies in forest ecosystems, and intentional creation of new snags is increasingly common during forest treatments. The abundance, volume, size, and distribution of snags can affect wildlife communities and stand-level biological diversity. Characteristics such as the wood properties of different tree species, environmental conditions, and cause of tree death (e.g., insects, disease, senescence, wind, fire) can influence decomposition and subsequent use of snags by wildlife. The objectives of this study were to characterize decay patterns in jack pine (Pinus banksiana) snags that had been killed by prescribed fire, topping, and girdling and determine the effects of these treatments on subsequent snag use by subcortical insects and primary cavity-nesting birds. The prescribed fire, topping, and girdling treatments were implemented in 2003, 2004, and 2007, respectively; bird excavations were quantified in 2014 and insect activity was measured in 2016. One-way analysis of variance tests were used to examine any differences among treatments in snag characteristics, decay characteristics, past insect activity, and past use by birds. An information theoretic approach to model selection was then used to rank potential predictors of bird foraging activity and cavities. The topping treatment had unique decay characteristics relative to the other two treatments; topped snags had the highest levels of past insect colonization, were softer, and had higher proportions of loose bark remaining on the boles. Trees killed by prescribed fire had the greatest number of foraging excavations and cavities. Girdled snags had the lowest evidence of past insect colonization and showed different levels of decay and insect use at different vertical positions on the snag bole. Comparison of candidate models showed that a model containing treatment type alone was the highest ranked when predicting foraging by birds, while snag diameter was the highest ranked when predicting the presence of cavities. A model containing treatment and snag density was also a highly ranked for predicting cavity presence. Our findings suggest that different jack pine snag treatments result in unique decay trajectories that may influence snag use by an array of wildlife taxa. Our characterization of three snag creation treatments can also inform options for generating snags, depending on the desired outcome, when management for biological legacies and wildlife habitat is of interest within mixed pine forests of the Great Lakes region.

Prescribed fire effects: Aspen’s varied response – a Research Brief from NAFSE

Management Implications:
  • Aspen stands subjected to prescribed fires may display different short-, medium-, or long-term responses.
  • Effects of prescribed fire may diminish after 40 years.
  • More research on aspen/fire interactions is needed in our region.

Original Article:
Perala, DA (1995) Quaking aspen productivity recovers after repeated prescribed fire. Research Paper NC-324. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station, 11 p. 

Mortality, scarring, and growth in an oak woodland following prescribed fire and commercial thinning in the Ozark Highlands.

C.S.Kinkead; M.C.Stambaugh; J.M.Kabrick
Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 403, 1 November 2017, Pages 12-26

•    Tree response to prescribed fire and commercial thinning measured in oak woodlands.
•    Changes in cumulative mortality, scar damage, and radial growth were recorded.
•    Two burns alone increased mortality and scarring, with no effect on radial growth.
•    Thinning increased growth, but subsequent fires reduced this added benefit.
•    Residual stand structure and species composition determine species response to treatments.

Oak-dominated (Quercus spp.) woodlands are commonly thinned and burned in the Ozark Highlands to prevent canopy closure and regenerate desired species, despite a lack of information regarding tree mortality, scarring, and growth in residual stands. Our study compared stand- and tree-level responses after two prescribed burns across four treatments: control, burn, thin, and thin + burn. Results showed that two prescribed fires led to 19% greater cumulative mortality than in unburned stands. In the burn treatment, 19.3% of residual live overstory trees were scarred, compared to 32.4% of trees in the thin + burn treatment. Analysis of scar area revealed that thinning before burning significantly increased the surface area (cm2) of fire scars. In general, trees in the red oak group (Erythrobalanus spp.) had the greatest percentage of scarred trees, followed by the white oak group (Leucobalanus spp.), hickories (Carya spp.), and shortleaf pines (Pinus echinata Mill.). Our data indicate that two fires did not significantly decrease the radial growth of white oaks, except in stands which were thinned prior to prescribed burns. Average percent change in ring-widths (mm) suggest a 1.9% growth decrease in control, 1.4% decrease in burn, 84% increase in thin, and a 35% increase in thin + burn. Covariates such as age, slope, surrounding basal area, canopy openness, and fire scars were analyzed, but tree diameter was the only significant predictor of growth response. Overall, results suggest that effects of prescribed burning are more pronounced in thinned stands as a function of increased fuel loads and fire intensity, causing greater mortality, fire scarring, and reductions in potential growth than fire or thinning alone. This study highlights important tradeoffs between prescribed fire and thinning in oak dominated ecosystems, especially where fire related damages are in potential conflict with other stand objectives.

USFS & Partners Research Role of Wildfire in Maintaining Healthy U.P. Forests

Release Date: Nov 1, 2017  

Gladstone, MI -- In order to better understand fire’s role in the Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forest’s unique and complex ecosystems, the Forest Service has teamed up with The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Technological University, Michigan Natural Features Inventory and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The project will initially examine the role of fire in six representative study areas across the Hiawatha’s forested upland and adjoining wetland landscapes. Subsequent study areas are currently being identified on the Ottawa National Forest, The Nature Conservancy’s Two Hearted River Reserve, and we are reaching out to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources with hopes to include non-federal Upper Peninsula (U.P.) lands. 

JFSP Research Program Synopsis

JFSP has funded numerous fire science research programs leading to significant advances in the field.


The Science of Fuel Treatments

Fuel Treatment Findings from JFSP Studies:
  • Appropriately designed fuel treatments substantially reduce fire intensity and detrimental ecological effects. In forest ecosystems that are adapted to frequent, low intensity fires, the combination of tree thinning followed by the regular use of prescribed fire are most effective.
  • Fuel treatments can improve wildlife habitat, increase biodiversity, and increase forage production when they are designed with these considerations in mind.
  • Not all wildfires have negative impacts. A wildfire that burns under specific conditions can be an effective surrogate for a fuel treatment.

Weather, Fuels, Fire Behavior, Plumes, and Smoke - The Nexus of Fire Meteorology

Scott Goodrick, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service
Timothy Brown, Desert Research Institute
W. Matt Jolly, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service

Our scientific understanding of wildland fire-atmosphere interactions has evolved: from simple correlations supporting the notion that hot, dry, and windy conditions lead to more intense fires, we have moved towards more mechanistic and physical descriptions of governing processes such as fuel moisture dynamics, wind-driven fire spread, the influence of vortices, and plume dynamics. Our advances are important not only for the sake of scientific knowledge but also for the sake of transferring new knowledge into applications for decision making.

•    Wildland fires are difficult to measure. Past fire-atmosphere interaction studies have relied on simple fire metrics such as area burned or mean spread rate. Advances in remote sensing such as infrared imagers and LiDAR(Light Detection and Ranging) which is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges, allow for measuring heat release from fires and analyzing the air flow patterns in and around fires.
•     Prescribed fires give researchers a level of control and repeatability not possible with wildfires. The Prescribed Fire Combustion and Atmospheric Dynamics Research Experiment (RxCADRE) a major JFSP project, brought over 90 scientists and technicians together for a series of fires at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida for an integrated research project exploring fuels, fire behavior, fire effects, meteorology and smoke dispersion. Data from this experiment provides a rich test bed for development and testing of fire behavior and smoke dispersion models.
•    Advances in computer technology have led to the widespread use of coupled fire-atmosphere models within the research community. While still largely too computationally demanding for real-time operational use, these models provide an additional tool for exploring a range of research questions such as topographic influences on fire behavior and multiple fireline interactions.


TED talk: Why wildfires have gotten worse — and what we can do about it.

Listen to this recent TED talk on wildfires (14 minutes) - "Megafires are the result of the way we've managed this western landscape over the last 150 years in a steadily warming climate. Much of the destruction that we are currently seeing could actually have been avoided."

Fall 2017 Canadian Wildland Fire and Smoke Newsletter

In the Fall 2017 edition you can find these articles:
  • The 2017 Canadian Wildfire Season
  • Appropriate response—Ontario’s strategic approach to wildland fire 
  • Building a Blueprint - a renewed future for wildland fire science in Canada
  • Return to Flame: Reasons for Burning in Lytton First Nation, British Columbia 
  • Edmonton smoked in by BC wildfires, July 19-20, 2017 - a case study 
  • Gradual landscape anthropization and its effect on the pyrogeography of Alberta 
  • Interpolating daily precipitation to improve fire danger rating in Alberta, Canada: which methods are best? 
  • An early warning system for forecasting human-caused fire activity using satellite-observed greenness 
  • Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science Second Biennial Wildfire Science and Technology Retreat

Call for Workshop Session or Presentation Proposals Deadline is December 4th for the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop

The International Association of Wildland Fire, in partnership with the Wildland Fire Leadership Council and the Western, Southeast, and Northeast Regions of the Cohesive Strategy, invites you to join us at the 2nd Annual National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop to be held March 26-29, 2018, in Reno, NV.

The deadline to submit workshop session and presentation proposals has been extended to December 4, 2017:
•    Download Call for Proposals PDF 
•    Submit a Session/Presentation Proposal 

Regular registration fee: $125
(Before March 1, 2018)
Regular registration fee: $175
(After March 1, 2018)

U.S. Forest Service Employees: Waived*
(*Note: During the initial planning stages for this workshop, we received some incorrect information regarding how it fits within Meetings Management requirements. We have been made aware of the correct information and you will need to go through the Meetings Management process to gain approval to attend. If you would like to attend, please email Chris Farley to express your interest no later than December 1st. We apologize for this misinformation, we hope that everyone who is interested in moving this very important topic forward will be able to attend.)

Other agencies may also quality for waived registration; please contact us for more information.

Fire Trainings – 2nd Annual Prescribed Fire Training Exchange in Wisconsin (WI-TREX)

When: April 9 - 25, 2018
The Objective of the 16 day TREX program in Wisconsin is to facilitate peer-to-peer, experiential learning for prescribed fire professionals and others interested in advancing their knowledge and tool-set in restoring fire-adapted landscapes. Participants will engage in a unique program blending maximum field prescribed burning experience with a flexible curriculum of classroom instruction on foundational topics for prescribed fire practitioners. Participants will have the opportunity to complete portions of their National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) approved prescribed fire task books.

Contact Eric Mark for questions

Read Training Announcement for additional details
Registration Form

Conferences-Workshops-Field Trips in the Region

2018 Stewardship Network Conference
Science, Practice & Art of Restoring Native Ecosystems Conference
January 12 – 13, 2018
East Lansing, MI at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center

Midwest Fish & Wildlife Conference
January 28-31, 2018
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

REGISTRATION is OPEN for 4th Annual Burning Issues Workshop 2018 and Michigan Prescribed Fire Council Annual Meeting
February 6-7, 2018
Fort Custer Training Center, Augusta, MI

Registration link

SAVE-the-DATE for the 2nd Annual WI Winter Fire Workshop
February 16, 2018
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Registration will open soon!
Midwest/Great Lakes Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration Annual Meeting
April 20-22, 2018
Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference
October 15-18, 2018
Rochester, Minnesota

Conferences and Workshops in the U.S. 

January 30 - February 1, 2018
Portland, ME

Wildland Urban Interface Conference
February 27 - March 1, 2018
Peppermill Resort
Reno, NV
2nd Annual National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop
March 26-29, 2018
Peppermill Resort Spa Casino
Reno, NV
The Fire Continuum Conference: Preparing for the Future of Wildland Fire 
May 21-24, 2018 
Missoula, MT

Want to submit an article, post an event or training, or contribute a success story?

Does your agency, organization, or community have a wildland fire science project, event, training, or story you would like to see featured in the Lake States Fire Science Consortium Newsletter? 
Please send submissions to Jack McGowan-Stinski.
Copyright © 2017 Lake States Fire Science Consortium, All rights reserved.
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