May 2016 Newsletter

In This Issue

2016 NR Season Wildfire Outlook

Bryan Henry and Michael Richmond, meteorologists with the Northern Rockies Coordination Center's Predictive Services Center, reviewed the following factors in their predictions for the 2016 fire season for the Northern Rockies -
  • Fall moisture and preexisting drought conditions
  • Snowpack melting rates
  • Spring temperatures and precipitation
  • Predicted July temperatures and precipitation
  • Summer convection activity
  • Live and dead fuel moisture
The Northern Rockies region is largely drought-free and expected to remain that way through July, even with the early snow melt in low- and mid-elevation mountain ranges. Spring temperatures have been warmer than average region wide, but temperatures are expected to trend closer to average into summer. Combined fire season severity factors suggest a "normal" wildfire season for July and August. A normal fire season does not preclude large fire occurrence and chances for several Type 1 and 2 suppression team deployments.

Investigation into past fire activity for the region (1988-2015) suggests that large fire occurrence is happening about every 6 years, with large acreage burned in 1988, 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012. Read the full 2016 Fire Outlook Report.

Interactive Community Mapping Tool


Headwaters Economics developed an interactive map of U.S. communities threatened by wildfires of 100 acres or larger between 2000-2014. The map can be filtered by wildfire size, proximity to towns, and town population sizes.

Accompanying data tables can be filtered by state to give county results for the:
  • number of 100-1,000 acre fires that occurred <700 ft from towns
  • number of 1,000-5,000 acre fires that occurred <2 miles from towns
  • number of 5,000+ acre fires that occurred <10 miles from towns
Explore the data and map at Headwaters Economics.

Smoke Symposium Call for Presentations


The 2nd International Smoke Symposium (ISS2) will be November 14-17, 2016 in Long Beach, California. The Call for Presentations is now open. The deadline to submit a presentation proposal has been extended to May 24.

The ISS2 will bring together researchers from the atmospheric sciences, the ecological sciences, mathematicians, computer sciences, climatologists, social scientists, health professionals, smoke responders and others to discuss the complex issues of wildland fire smoke and identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for innovation and development.

Learn more and submit your proposal at the ISS2 Conference Website

Decision Support Training Opportunities


The Wildland Fire Management Research, Development, & Application (WFM RD&A) program is providing opportunities for individuals to gain and improve skills in large fire decision support, fire behavior analysis, and in Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS). Selected individuals will assist the WFM RD&A by supporting incidents at the National Geographic Area Coordination Center (GACC) Decision Support Centers.

There are two on the job training opportunities available: 
  • Call When Needed opportunities, which supplement regular staff as necessary. Support lasts a few hours to two shifts.
  • Mentee opportunities, which are 14 day (or longer) commitments where individuals are integrated into the RD&A staff.
For more information and links to other types of fire training resources, visit the WFM RD&A Decision Support Training webpage.

FireWorks Educational Trunk - Master Class


The "master class" on teaching with the FireWorks educational trunk will be June 16-17 at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory.

The free workshop -
  • is two days of intense, entertaining, hands-on activities for teaching students about wildland fire behavior, ecology, management, and activities related to traditional fire use
  • focuses on ecosystems in the Northern Rocky Mountains and North Cascade range
  • reflects recent advances in fire research
  • covers more than 30 of the FireWorks trunk activities for K-12 and adult education
The FireWorks program is a valuable resource for fire prevention specialists, fire information officers, trainers, environmental educators, students and other community members—especially for teachers (OPI and University of Montana credit available, pending approval).

The FireWorks trunks contain a wide variety of materials including laboratory equipment, specimens, CDs, books, and kits of specialized materials for teachers. Trunks are currently available for loan in eight states: AK, CO, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, and WY.

For more information, visit the FireWorks event webpage.

Wilderness Fire Science Webinar

May 26, 12-1:30 pm MDT, Carol Miller, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute; Greg Aplet, The Wilderness Society; and Dave Campbell, retired FS District Ranger and Society of Wilderness Stewardship Board Chair will present a webinar on recent progress in wilderness fire science as it relates to risk management, decision-making, uncertainty, and institutional and social barriers to expanding fire use. The webinar highlights the presenters’ article soon to be released in the May Wilderness Science issue of the Journal of Forestry.
This is the third in a four-part webinar series hosted by the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center. Add this webinar to your Outlook or Google calendar, or simply join the webinar on May 26.

2016 JFSP Funded Projects in the NR


Congratulations to those involved with projects funded by the Joint Fire Science Program in 2016. Below are the funded projects directly relevant to Northern Rockies ecosystems.
  • What makes for a resilient landscape? Climate, fire, and forests in the Northern Rockies - Monica Turner et al., University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Identifying ecological and social resilience in fire-prone landscapes - Philip E. Higuera et al., University of Montana
  • Climate variability and post-fire forest regeneration in the Northern Rockies - Philip E. Higuera et al., University of Montana
  • Towards improved quantification and prediction of post-fire recovery in conifers - Crystal A. Kolden et al., University of Idaho
  • Post-fire tree regeneration and fuels across the Northern Rockies following large wildfires: science meta-analyses, scenarios and manager workshops - Penny Morgan et al., University of Idaho
  • Effects of climate change and climate-altered fire regimes on whitebark pine populations - Diana F. Tomback et al., University of Colorado-Denver
  • Native bee nesting habitat use after wildfire in Montana - Laura A. Burkle et al., Montana State University
  •  Landscape evaluations and prescriptions for post-fire landscapes - Andrew J. Larson et al., University of Montana
  • Integrating social and ecological resilience into forest management planning - Jesse B. Abrams et al., University of Oregon
  • Mortality reconsidered: Testing and extending models of fire-–induced tree mortality across the U.S. - Sharon Hood et al., USFS
  • Resilient landscapes and fire regimes: Meaning, metrics, and management - Sharon Hood et al., USFS
For more information, see the complete list and details of projects funded in 2016.

JFSP Staffing Updates


The Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP), has undergone several staffing changes over the past year, which include -
  • Deputy Program Director, Ed Brunson, in July 2015
  • Communications Director, Coleen Haskell in April 2016 following retirement of Tim Swedberg
  • John Hall in May 2016; outgoing manager, John Cissel, retires June 30, 2016
Deputy Program Director, Ed Brunson, most recently worked as the Regional Fire Ecologist for the Eastern and Southern Plains regions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Ed has also worked as Preserves Program Manager, Arizona State Fire Manager, and Fire Education Director for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and served many years on the JFSP Governing Board.

Communications Director, Coleen Haskell, most recently served as the Assistant Program Manager for the Predictive Services Program at the National Interagency Fire Center, where she provided oversight and support to 10 Geographic Area Coordination Centers. She also spent 20 years with the National Weather Service in Incident Meteorology.

JFSP Program Manager, Dr. John Hall, most recently managed the Resource Conservation and Climate Change program under both the Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program. Hall has also worked as Program and Project Manager for TNC.

Welcome all to the JFSP!

May 24
How Will Forests Affect Mountain Snow Storage in a Warming Climate?

May 26
Progress in Wilderness Fire Science: Embracing Complexity

Search the NRFSN Webinar Archive

June 15-19
Forest Health: Identification and Management of Forest Insects and Diseases
Spokane, WA

June 16-17
FireWorks Educator Workshop 2016
Missoula, MT

September 16-18
2016 Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation Science and Management Conference
Whitefish, MT

October 4-6
13th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Teton National Park, WY

October 24-28
Wildland Fire Canada 2016: Towards a Resilient Future
Kelowna, British Columbia

November 2-6
2016 Society of American Foresters National Convention

November 7-10
2016 National Wilderness Workshop - Save the Date
Missoula, MT

November 14-16
7th Annual Northwest Climate Conference
Stevenson, WA

November 14-17
2nd International Smoke Symposium
Long Beach, CA

Search the NRFSN Research & Publications Database

Fire and Bark Beetles -
Fire severity and cumulative disturbance effects in the post-mountain pine beetle lodgepole pine forests of the Pole Creek Fire

Low-severity fire increases tree defense against bark beetle attacks

Fire Behavior -
Forest fuels and potential fire behaviour 12 years after variable-retention harvest in lodgepole pine

Global fire size distribution: from power law to log-normal

Predicting large wildfires across western North America by modeling seasonal variation in soil water balance

Synthesis of knowledge of extreme fire behavior: volume 2 for fire behavior specialists, researchers, and meteorologists

Fire Communication -
Outcomes of fire research: is science used?

Fire and Economics -
Fighting fire in the heat of the day: an analysis of operational and environmental conditions of use for large airtankers in United States fire suppression

Examining heterogeneity and wildfire management expenditures using spatially and temporally descriptive data

Fire Effects (Vegetation)-
Elevated Rocky Mountain elk numbers prevent positive effects of fire on quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) recruitment

High and dry: post-fire tree seedling establishment in subalpine forests decreases with post-fire drought and large stand-replacing burn patches

Tree mortality and structural change following mixed-severity fire in Pseudotsuga forests of Oregon's western Cascades, USA

Fire Effects (Soil, Water)-
Can pore-clogging by ash explain post-fire runoff?

Influences of vegetation disturbance on hydrogeomorphic response following wildfire

Sediment-phosphorus dynamics can shift aquatic ecology and cause downstream legacy effects after wildfire in large river systems

The effects of climate change and extreme wildfire events on runoff erosion over a mountain watershed

Validation of a probabilistic post-fire erosion model

Fire Effects (Severity) -
1984–2010 trends in fire burn severity and area for the conterminous US

Burned forest characterization at single-tree level with airborne laser scanning for assessing wildlife habitat

Does prescribed fire promote resistance to drought in low elevation forests of the Sierra Nevada, California, USA?

How will climate change affect wildland fire severity in the western US?

Relations between soil hydraulic properties and burn severity

Toward a more ecologically informed view of severe forest fires

Fire and Future Climate -
A new method comparing snowmelt timing with annual area burned

Attribution of extreme weather events in the context of climate change - Report in brief

Ecohydrological implications of drought for forests in the United States

Fire History -
Altered mixed-severity fire regime has homogenised montane forests of Jasper National Park

Macroanatomy and compartmentalization of recent fire scars in three North American conifers

Fire and People -
Is seeing believing? Perceptions of wildfire risk over time

The net benefits of human-ignited wildfire forecasting: the case of tribal land units in the United States

Fire Policy -
Wildfires in the United States: a primer

Fire and Traditional Knowledge Opportunities to utilize traditional phenological knowledge to support adaptive management of social-ecological systems vulnerable to changes in climate and fire regimes

Fuels -
Data assimilation of dead fuel moisture observations from remote automated weather stations

Seasonal relationships between foliar moisture content, heat content and biochemistry of lodgepole pine and big sagebrush foliage

The Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System: functionality for fuels treatment planning

Invasive Species -
Safeguarding America's lands and waters from invasive species

Secondary invasion: the bane of weed management

Management / Monitoring -
Landscape Change Monitoring System (LCMS) information needs assessment: survey results

Tamm Review: Management of mixed-severity fire regime forests in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California

Resilience -
A 350-million-year legacy of fire adaptation among conifers

Fire legacies impact conifer regeneration across environmental gradients in the U.S. northern Rockies

Integrating theory into disturbance interaction experiments to better inform ecosystem management

Restoration -
Conservation and restoration of sagebrush ecosystems and sage-grouse: an assessment of USDA Forest Service Science

Risk and Uncertainty -
Risk management: core principles and practices, and their relevance to wildland fire

Risk terminology primer: basic principles and a glossary for the wildland fire management community

Smoke and Carbon-
Non-deforestation fire vs. fossil fuel combustion: the source of CO2 emissions affects the global carbon cycle and climate responses

Toward an integrated system for fire, smoke and air quality simulations

CONTACT US -- We'd like to hear your suggestions, ideas, and questions.

Vita Wright, Principal Investigator               |  406.396.5374                   
US Forest Service, Kalispell, Montana

Corey Gucker, Coordinator  |  208.373.4342 
US Forest Service, Boise, Idaho

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