December 2020 Newsletter

In This Issue

Additional Events and Resources (Right Column)

New Research Briefs 

As the extraordinary fire season of 2020 continues in parts of the western US, we are excited to share two timely and important research briefs. 

The first, Wildland Firefighter Smoke Exposure and Risk of Lung and Cardiovascular Disease, summarizes a 2019 study by Kathleen Navarro and others that analyzed long-term health impacts of smoke exposure for wildland firefighters. The brief describes the  relative risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality across several firefighter exposure scenarios, using measured particulate matter concentrations from smoke and breathing rates from previous wildland firefighter studies. 

In Climatic Controls on Post-fire Ponderosa Pine and Douglas-fir Regeneration and Growth, authors Kimberley T. Davis and Lacey E. Hankin explore how seasonal climate conditions affect post-fire ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir regeneration and growth, and how reductions in canopy cover may alter microclimate conditions for seedlings near the ground level.

Stay tuned for upcoming research briefs on long-term fuel treatment effects and wilderness fire! All NRFSN research briefs and syntheses are posted here.

New "Hot Topic" Webpages

Over the past year, NRFSN staff and collaborators have been busy developing new "Hot Topic" webpages, two of which recently went live on the NRFSN website. These webpages feature curated resources (webinar recordings, videos, scientific articles, syntheses, and upcoming and past events) relevant to specific topics of interest. 

The Public Perspectives of Fire Management webpage features resources that provide background to better understand the social issues that managers encounter in fire management and provide potential ways to address those issues. This hot topic was developed in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Research Station.  

On the Post-fire Debris Flows webpage, users will find resources related to occurrence and severity of debris flows, potential consequences of post-fire debris flows, debris flow assessment, and mitigation efforts such as pre-fire fuel treatment and post-fire soil, slope, and channel stabilization. This hot topic was developed in partnership with Montana State University and Rocky Mountain Research Station. 

Potential Operational Delineations (PODs) Storymap

A new storymap describing the background and utility of Potential Operational Delineations (PODs) is now available. The Storymap was developed and is maintained by the Wildfire Risk Management Science Team at the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. It provides a wealth of information and resources in a multi-media, highly visual format. Check it out! 

WildfireSAFE App

Designed to increase firefighter & fire manager situation awareness and enhance risk mitigation, the WildfireSAFE App is no longer a prototype and now available for use in the entire continental United States. The application allows users to view weather analysis for any active incident, compare active incidents within an area of interest, and capture observations about fire behavior. It also automatically analyzes the fuels, terrain conditions, and values at risk in the area surrounding the incident.  

WildfireSAFE integrates with the Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS) to provide targeted information at the incident-level. WFAS provides information on fire weather and fire potential across temporal and geographical scales, including fuel moistures and fire danger classes from the US National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS), Keetch-Byram and Palmer drought indices, lower atmospheric stability and satellite-derived vegetation conditions. 

WIldfireSAFE is designed to be used by the Forest Service as well as private industry, local and state firefighting organizations and the general public. For more information, visit the WildfireSAFE website.

--- Information adapted from the USDA Forest Service RMRS WildfireSAFE webpage

COVID-19 Incident Risk Assessment Tool 

Another resource for fire managers, the COVID-19 Incident Risk Assessment Tool was released over the summer. The tool is intended to support line officer and incident management assessment of COVID-19 risk at the incident level, and was developed by the COVID-19 Fire Modeling Team, composed of researchers from Colorado State University and the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Station.

NWCG Smoke and Safety Guide

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group has released a new Smoke and Roadway Safety Guide. The Guide provides wildland fire personnel the tools and methods to effectively plan and forecast for roadway smoke impacts and to monitor, respond to, and mitigate smoke on roadways to reduce the risk to the public and fire personnel.  

Joint Vision on Benefits of Prescribed Fire to Wildfire

The Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) recently released a Joint Vision and Key Messages on Relative Benefits of Prescribed Fire to Wildfire. In the statement, WFLC member agencies and organizations, along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recognize the critical role that wildland fire plays on the landscape, and the opportunities to use prescribed fire to promote ecosystem resilience and potentially reduce emissions from future wildfire.

Most Promising Scientist Award

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) announced Dr. Serra Hoagland as the 2020 Most Promising Engineer or Scientist in their Professional Award Series. Dr. Hoagland (Laguna Pueblo) serves as the Liaison Officer/Biologist for the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) Fire Sciences Lab to Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana.

From a September press release: "...Serra has published 10 peer-reviewed scientific publications, contributed to 8 books, and has provided numerous podcasts, guest lectures, newspaper interviews, plenary speeches, magazine articles and scientific presentations. To sustain our communities and culture, Serra believes Indigenous teachings can be used as a moral compass and direct approaches to natural resource management. “When our environmental management is backed in tradition, long-term stewardship and maintenance of our resources is possible."

Congratulations Serra!

2020 Fire Season "In the News"

The 2020 wildfire season has been noteworthy and tragic in many respects, and continues to be active in parts of the country. Numerous news media pieces have been produced in response. Here are just a few, several of which feature NRFSN collaborators: 

'People are burned out': Brutal fire season is taking a toll on firefighters' mental health - USA Today

Tough Fire Season Takes Toll on Firefighters’ Mental Health - The Daily Yonder

They Know How to Prevent Megafires. Why Won’t Anybody Listen? - Propublica

Alarmed by Scope of Wildfires, Officials Turn to Native Americans for Help - New York Times

How Indigenous Burning Practices Could Prevent Massive Wildfires - Science Friday

The Science Connecting Wildfires to Climate Change - National Geographic

Opinion: There will be more wildfires. What should we do? - Washington Post

The US Forest Service says it knows how to stop wildfires - aPlus News

How climate change ‘exacerbates’ wildfires in the American West - PBS


December 10
Prescribed Burn Associations: Different Models for Different Places

Search NRFSN Upcoming Events

Assessing the Work of Wildfires and Identifying Post-fire Management Needs

The Cohesive Strategy in 2020: Dynamic Adaptation in a Novel World Virtual Workshop 

Impacts of COVID-19 on the 2020 Fire Season

Emotional Intelligence for Wildland Fire Professionals

Living with Wildland Fire Virtual Shared Learning Series 2020

Efficacy of Post-fire Treatments

Implementing collaborative planning programs to generate fire-adapted communities

Response of Big Sagebrush Plant Communities to Climate Change, Grazing, and Cheatgrass Throughout the 21st Century

From Parallel Play to Co-Management: Conserving Landscapes at Risk of Wildfire in the American West
Sharing Science and Lessons Learned- COVID-19 and Wildfire

Search the NRFSN Webinar and Video Archive

Public Perspectives of Fire Management

Post-fire Debris Flows

Search NRFSN Hot Topics

Search the NRFSN Research & Publications Database

Ecosystem Changes-
Structural diversity and development in active fire regime mixed-conifer forests

Increased fire severity triggers positive feedbacks of greater vegetation flammability and favors plant community‐type conversions

Fire and Climate-
Simulation modeling of complex climate, wildfire, and vegetation dynamics to address wicked problems in land management

Climate‐altered fire regimes may increase extirpation risk in an upper subalpine conifer species of management concern

Fire and climate change: conserving seasonally dry forests is still possible

Fire & Economics-
The Biggest Bang for the Buck: Cost‐Effective Vegetation Treatment Outcomes Across Drylands of the Western USA
Fire Effects-
Prescribed fire effects on sediment and nutrient exports in forested environments: a review

Repeated Fire Shifts Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling by Changing Plant Inputs and Soil Decomposition Across Ecosystems

Restoration applications of resource objective wildfires in western US forests: a status of knowledge review

Fire Regimes-
Development of a Severe Fire Potential map for the contiguous United States

Soil Resistance to Burn Severity in Different Forest Ecosystems in the Framework of a Wildfire

Fire Severity
Strong Legacy Effects of Prior Burn Severity on Forest Resilience to a High-Severity Fire

Wildfire severity and postfire salvage harvest effects on long‐term forest regeneration

Changes to the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity program mapping production procedures and data products

Firefighter Health and Safety
The potential impact of bushfire smoke on brain health

Potential COVID-19 outbreak in fire camp: Modeling scenarios and interventions

Fuel Treatments
Long-Term Effects of Fuels Treatments, Overstory Structure, and Wildfire on Tree Regeneration in Dry Forests of Central Washington

Forest restoration treatments in a ponderosa pine forest enhance physiological activity and growth under climatic stress

Re-introducing fire in sagebrush steppe experiencing decreased fire frequency: does burning promote spatial and temporal heterogeneity?

Prescribed fire effects on sediment and nutrient exports in forested environments: a review

Cognitive maps reveal diverse perceptions of how prescribed fire affects forests and communities

Human Dimensions of Fire Management-
An examination of the social-psychological drivers of homeowner wildfire mitigation

Organizational Effectiveness-
A Geospatial Framework to Assess Fireline Effectiveness for Large Wildfires in the Western USA

Post-fire Management-
Effects of post-fire management on dead woody fuel dynamics and stand structure in a severely burned mixed-conifer forest, in northeastern Washington State, USA

Temporal evolution of measured and simulated infiltration following wildfire in the Colorado Front Range, USA: shifting thresholds of runoff generation and hydrologic hazards

Resilience to large, 'catastrophic' wildfires in North America's grassland biome

Risk Management-
Burning without borders: Cooperatively managing wildfire risk in Northern Colorado

Quantifying how sources of uncertainty in combustible biomass propagate to prediction of wildland fire emissions

The COVID-19 pandemic and wildfire smoke: potentially concomitant disasters

The delayed effect of wildfire season particulate matter on subsequent influenza season in a mountain west region of the USA

Summer PM2.5 pollution extremes caused by wildfires over the western United States during 2017-2018

Association for Fire Ecology, November 2020

California Fire Science Consortium Newsletter, November 2020

Great Basin Fire Science Research and Events, December 2020

Landfire Newsletter, November/December 2020

Northwest Fire Science Consortium Newsletter, December 2020

Rocky Mountain Research Station Science You Can Use Bulletin - October 2020

Southern Rockies Fire Science Network Newsletter - December 2020

Western Region National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Newsletter, October 2020

Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation Newsletter, November 2020

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

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

Signe Leirfallom, Coordinator  |  406.546.4467
University of Montana, Missoula, Montana

Monique Wynecoop, Fire Ecologist & Tribal Liaison
NE WA Area Fire Ecologist, Region 6  |  509.684.7091                    
US Forest Service, Colville, Washington

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