April 2012 Newsletter
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In This Issue     

Welcome to the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network!

Map of NRFSN geographic areaAfter a year and a half of planning, we are pleased to announce the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network, NRFSN, has been funded for implementation. Thanks to all of you who participated in the Spring 2011 needs assessment. Based on the input we received, you can expect to see additional venues, such as fieldtrips and workshops, for scientists and managers to share knowledge about fire and fuels research needs and relevant research products. We will also create an easy to use website that serves as a first stop for fire and fuels research relevant to the Northern Rockies, synthesize research, and provide timely announcements of upcoming events and research products. We aim to be your go-to resource for fire and fuels research in the Northern Rockies.

We look forward to serving you, Vita Wright, Principal Investigator, on behalf of the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network Project Team

What We Heard During NRFSN Needs Assessment

During the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network (NRFSN) Spring 2011 needs assessment, approximately 200 managers and decision makers provided input through a survey and focus groups hosted throughout the region. In a nutshell, here’s what we learned:
  • Obstacles. High-ranking obstacles to using research included lack of time, lack of communication between science and management agencies, lack of communication within agencies, budget and travel limitations, lack of one convenient place to access fire research, and too much research available to digest/integrate.
  • Methods. Communication with coworkers and Internet searches were most frequently used to access fire research. The most useful methods were communication with coworkers, field tours/demonstration sites, and research briefs/fact sheets/brochures.
  • Topics. These results varied greatly by group. Fire/Fuels Specialists said they needed better access to research on fire behavior prediction/modeling and public communication/education; Decision Makers said they needed better access to research on risk assessment and climate-fire dynamics; Other Disciplinary Specialists said they needed better access to research on fire effects.
  • Activities. Creating a one-stop searchable website, creating research briefs summarizing results and implications, and synthesizing fire research were the top ranked activities for the NRFSN.

JFSP Website Offers New Ways to Stay Connected

JFSP website
The new Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) website provides several options to easily obtain information on fire research that supports management decision making and to stay connected with the fire community.

Check out these features:
  • Easy-to-use searchable library of completed research, digests, briefs, and syntheses
  • Receive timely news and announcements by email
  • Read, subscribe to, and provide your input through the On Fire blog
  • Follow on Twitter (you don't have to "tweet") and Facebook (you don't need an account to view)
  • And, visit the website at

Missoula Fire Lab—At a Glance

Fire Lab imageA partner of the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network, the Fire, Fuel, and Smoke (FFS) Science Program of the USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station, focuses on fundamental and applied research relating to the process and effects of wildland fire. Located in Montana at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory (Fire Lab), the scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff in the FFS Program conduct international, cutting-edge work in wildland fire research and develop research and management tools and applications designed to improve both the safety and effectiveness of fire management.  Read more

New, Searchable Version of FEIS

The Fire Effects Information System (FEIS), developed by the USDA Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program (the Fire Lab), synthesizes information on basic biology and fire effects for more than 1,200 species. Testing is underway on a new user interface for the system, which enables searches on species name, life form, nativity, invasiveness, and several geographic criteria and download of search results into a spreadsheet. By June 1, FEIS will post a notice on both the new and current websites notifying users that content on the new site is up-to-date and ready to be used in their work. Testing will continue through September. Please send questions, notice of malfunctions, and suggestions for improvement to Robin Innes.
View beta version of new FEIS website  |  View current FEIS website

Help Us Make Fire and Fuels Syntheses More Useful

Synthesis coverHave you used any of the 20-plus syntheses produced by Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) in the past 12 years (view list)? Or are you interested in reading one and providing feedback? I’m developing guidelines for improving the usefulness of JFSP syntheses for field users. As lead for the Fire Effects Information System (FEIS), I’ve worked with syntheses for years, but I need to know more about the features of these documents that work well for you and the features that should be improved on or avoided. If you’re willing to comment on one of these documents, perhaps one that you’re already using or would like to use, please fill out a Response Form. Thank you!

Jane Kapler Smith
FEIS Program Lead, Missoula Fire Sciences Lab, 406-329-4805

Surveys Play Important Role in NRFSN Development

survey clip boardAs a Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) regional consortium, the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network (NRFSN) is guided by six principles, which include being driven by the needs of our management partners. In order to truly attend to these needs, the NRFSN may seem survey-heavy on the front end. Last Spring, we conducted the needs assessment survey and focus groups to understand the needs and priorities of our partners. During the needs assessment, managers said they frequently used communication with coworkers to access fire research. This Spring, in order to better understand communication with coworkers, we are conducting a fire science communication phone survey. With the results of this survey, we will be able to disseminate science through interpersonal communication networks in addition to more traditional methods such as websites and fieldtrips.

Finally, in order to assess our success, the JFSP has asked us to conduct an annual evaluation survey. This survey is being administered across the JFSP knowledge exchange network. With our first evaluation serving as a baseline, subsequent evaluations will be used to identify areas of success and opportunities for improvement. By periodically gathering your input, we hope to maximize our effectiveness at relieving some of the burden of accessing and using research.

Thank you for providing input through these surveys!


April 17
Smoke Management: Preparing and Informing the Public

April 18
First Order Fire Effects Model
Duncan Lutes

April 26
Social Motivation in the WUI: Ways to Effectively Engage the Public
Sarah McCaffrey

Fire Lab Seminars
April 19
My 40 Years in Fire!
Mick Harrington

April 26
Landfire, MegaFires and More
Kevin Ryan

May 3
A Look Forward-Perspectives on Wildland Fire During the Next 30 Years
Faith Ann Heinsch

Future Forests Series
Research findings and management implications for mountain pine beetle post-outbreak forests


April 17-19
3rd Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference
- check out option for *virtual attendance*
Seattle, WA

April 17-19
4th Forest Vegetation Simulator Conference
Fort Collins, CO

December 3-7
5th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress
Portland, OR


A 50-Year Dedication to Understanding Wildlands and FIre

Mapping Burn Severity Potential in the Western United States

National Fire Decision Support Center 2011 Annual Report


Natural Inquirer
Wildland Fire Edition 2 (2010) 
Wildland FIre Edition 1 (2003)


NRFSN Seeks Coordintor
will outreach soon for a coordinator to facilitate information exchange among managers and scientists in the Northern Rockies. For more information, contact Vita Wright.

View the NRFSN handout

NRFSN handout

We'd like to hear your suggestions, ideas, and questions!
Vita Wright, Principal Investigator  |  406.396.5374
650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, Montana 59937

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