July 2020 Newsletter

In This Issue

Additional Events and Resources (Right Column)

Lessons from Wilderness Fire Video

wilderness landscapeAfter several years of interviewing wilderness fire champions, we are excited to release a new video sharing 7 lessons from experts, including Dick Bahr, Tom Zimmerman, Diane Hutton, Orville Daniels, Dave Campbell, and more. This video, The Benefits of Hard Decisions: Applying Lessons from Wilderness Fire, is sure to spark discussion about the challenges of managing fire for resource benefit on public lands

Prescribed Fire Video

prescribed burn

The Northern Rockies Fire Science Network and the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources recently released a short video, Landscape Scale Fire Management on the Payette National Forest, which outlines the process used to complete landscape-scale controlled burns and highlights the importance of prescribed burning as a tool to reduce future wildfire risk. The content can be applied as an educational tool across the Northern Rockies region, especially geared towards audiences that may not be familiar or comfortable with prescribed burning. Feel free to share and use the video in your efforts to support prescribed fire programs and activities.    

Traditional Knowledge and Fire Newsletter

We are excited to announce that the first issue of the newsletter Traditional Knowledge and Fire is available! This newsletter highlights the important role that fire has had and continues to play in our diverse tribal cultures and communities and describes innovative projects and research being accomplished by and in partnership with tribal communities to help restore our human-adapted ecosystems.
To subscribe to the Traditional Knowledge and Fire Newsletter, visit our registration page. Please feel free to submit any articles or shout-outs related to TK and Fire to editor Monique Wynecoop and we will make sure and include them in future issues of the newsletter. 

High Five Conference and Crown Fire Forum Updates

photo of yellow glacier lilies under burned treesThe 2020 H5II – The Second Conference on the Research and Management of High Elevation Five Needle Pines in Western North America has been postponed until October 5-7, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Registration and abstract submission are still open for the 2021 event. The Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation will host a Virtual Science and Management Conference on September 16, 2020, so you can stay current on issues surrounding five needle pines. 

The Crown Fire Forum, scheduled for March 3-5, 2020, was postponed until 2021. The new dates have not been finalized but will likely be in late February or early March, 2021. NRFSN will update our website and send an announcement once the dates have been set. 

Invasive Species Science Update

The Rocky Mountain Research Station Invasive Species Working Group publishes an annual science update "designed to keep managers and other users up-to-date with recently completed and ongoing research by RMRS scientists, as well as to highlight breaking news related to invasive species issues." The 2020 Science Update was published in April, and includes research summaries on invasive plant response after forest treatments (including prescribed burning) and seeding native plant species to promote recovery after wildfire.

The NRFSN will continue to share these science updates as they become available. We are partnering with the Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) to deliver science related to recent updates on fire effects and invasive plant species in the region - stay tuned.            

COVID-19 Wildland Fire Resource Pages

Our partners at the Association for Fire Ecology (AFE) and the Southern Rockies Fire Science Network (SRFSN) have compiled and maintained web pages to serve as a collection point for COVID-19 information and resources related to wildland firefighting. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) also maintains a resource page related to COVID-19 and wildland fire operations. These pages are updated regularly so check back frequently: In addition, the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group worked with regional Area Command Teams and partners in the local fire community to develop protocols for wildfire response during the COVID-19 pandemic. These Wildland Fire Response Plans are available for incident management teams and fire units to help guide effective wildfire response.

JFSP Funding Opportunity Announcements NOW OPEN

The Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) are now open through 5 pm MDT, September 30, 2020. 

For more information, visit the JFSP website

The primary announcement has two task statements: 
  1. Sources and distribution of human-caused ignitions and their relation to wildfire impacts
  2. Reducing damages and losses to valued resources from wildfire
The Graduate Research Innovation (GRIN) announcement has one task statement. Proposals must address one or more of the following topic areas:
  • Fuels management and fire behavior 
  • Changing fire environment
  • Emissions and air quality 
  • Fire effects and post-fire recovery 
  • Relative impacts of prescribed fire versus wildfire 
  • Human dimensions of fire 

Association for Fire Ecology Updates

The Association for Fire Ecology (AFE) recently advertised several important announcements and opportunities including:
  • Read the IAWF and AFE United Statement Against Racism
  • The Fire Across Boundaries Conference in Florence, Italy has been postponed until October 12-15, 2021.
  • AFE will host a virtual event October 20-21, 2020. Sessions will engage the fire community in sharing information and discussing COVID-19 impacts on the 2020 fire season and integrating fire ecology and the bioeconomy into wildfire management. Registration will be available soon at In conjunction with the virtual event, the Fire Across Boundaries conference will include a virtual fire ecology film festival. Submissions are due September 28th, 2020.
  • Fire Ecology Chats: A Podcast Series. In this inaugural episode of Fire Ecology Chats, Fire Ecology editor Bob Keane interviews Morgan Varner, Director of Fire Research and Senior Scientist at Tall Timbers Research Station. Morgan shares the ideas and key messages presented by a team of 20 authors in the recent forum article "Prescribed fire science: the case for a refined research agenda."

    Episode 2 to be released soon, with authors Jessica Halofsky and David Peterson discussing their article on the effects of climate change on fire regimes and vegetation in the Pacific Northwest, USA.
  • The 9th International Fire Ecology and Management Congress, hosted by AFE  in cooperation with Tall Timbers, will be held in the Florida Panhandle at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, November 30 to December 4, 2021.
  • AFE is now accepting applications for the Wildland Fire Professional and Academic Program Certification for 2020. Professional certifications have multiple options to fit diverse career stages and focal areas including a new certification related to wildland fuels. Academic program certifications provide a suite of benefits for both the institution and students. Applications for both professional and academic program certification are due September 1.
Subscribe to the AFE newsletter to get these updates via email. 

NRFSN Staffing Update

Vita Wright, Principal Investigator for the NRFSN, began a 120-day detail as the Technology Transfer Specialist for the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory. While Vita will continue to oversee the NRFSN during this time, she will primarily focus on strategizing and delivering science for the Fire Lab’s science teams.

National and Regional Staffing Updates

  • Dan Buckley, formerly Branch Chief of Wildland Fire for National Park Service Fire and Aviation, has started in his new position as Branch Chief of Yosemite Fire Management at Yosemite National Park. Nate Benson, the NPS Fire Science Ecology Program Lead, was detailed into that position on June 22.
  • Shawna Legarza retired at the end of June after 31 years of service from her position as National Director for Fire and Aviation Management in State & Private Forestry. Patricia Grantham is the Acting National Director for Fire and Aviation Management in State & Private Forestry. Patty began her new temporary assignment July 1. Patty was the Forest Supervisor on the Klamath National Forest, Yreka, California.
  • Dana Skelly has accepted a 120 day detail as the Branch Chief – Hazardous Fuels Management. She was the Regional Fuels Lead for the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Region. Dana chairs the JFSP Governing Board.
  • Alan Townsend, an ecosystem ecologist who previously led programs at Duke University and the University of Colorado Boulder, will join the University of Montana (UM) as dean of the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation on October 1st. Former dean Tom Deluca began his new position as the dean of the Oregon State University College of Forestry on June 30. Chad Bishop, Director of the UM Wildlife Biology Program, is serving as Interim Dean of the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation.

Northern Rockies Wildland Fire Potential Outlook

Normal significant large fire potential is expected across most of the Northern Rockies July - October, with Above Normal significant large fire potential across northern Idaho and most of Montana in August and September.

Aside from recent precipitation events, most of the month has been drier than average across the region. Only small areas of northern Idaho, and southwestern and central Montana have received above average amounts. Temperatures during the past month were near average or warmer than average across most of the region. Other than the areas along the Continental Divide that received heavy snow in mid-June, mountain snowpacks have generally melted except on sheltered aspects in high terrain. 

Latest drought monitoring shows a small area of moderate drought over southwestern Montana, abnormal dryness over eastern Montana, and the western half of North Dakota is under short-term moderate drought conditions. Drought outlooks show these areas persisting through July, and possibly expanding over the rest of southern Montana and Yellowstone National Park in August and September. 

The seasonal July through September outlooks are depicting above average temperature and normal or below average precipitation potential throughout the region, focused most strongly over northern Idaho and west central Montana. 

ENSO neutral status is expected to persist through July, with the possibility of a weak La Niña developing later this summer which could bring the onset of significantly warmer and drier than average weather to the Northern Rockies by late July. There is also potential that the North American Monsoon will be more significant than last year, which would have implications for greater dry thunderstorm potential in the western PSAs.

--Adapted from July 1st report by Predictive Services, National Interagency Fire Center.


July 23
Restoring resilient ecosystems, communities, and economies in complex terrain: the Western Klamath Restoration Partnership

July 27
African American Attitudes Toward and Experiences with Controlled Burning in Alabama, Florida and Georgia

October 6-7
Restoring the West Webinar Series

July 27
Fighting Fire with Fire: Rx Fire Toolbox to Combat Identified Social Barriers

July 26-31
North American Congress for Conservation Biology

August 3-6
Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting: Harnessing the ecological data revolution

September 16
Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation Science and Management Meeting

September 17
Australian Bushfire Building Conference

September 30-October 1
Colorado Wildland Fire Conference - Discover Your Role: Reducing Wildfire Risk

October 13-16
Sierra To Sagebrush: Integrating Management and Stewardship Across Landscapes

October 14-16
MFCN and MWCC Workshop and Symposium: Summit to Stream: Connecting People, Water and Forests
Butte, Montana

October 20-21
Fire Ecology Across Boundaries

Statutory, Regulatory and Legal Constraints on Prescribed Fire in the USA

Old Data - The Wildfire You Didn't See Coming

Forest & Fire Learning Series: Moving Forward

The ecology, history, ecohydrology, and management of pinyon and juniper woodlands in the Great Basin

The West-Wide Fuelcasting System

Montana Wildfire Risk Assessment

A public engagement protocol: Social science in support of planning efforts
Evolving Forest Collaboration: Expanding Shared Stewardship of Idaho's Forests 

Search the NRFSN Webinar and Video Archive

Landscape Scale Prescribed Fire on the Payette National Forest

The Benefits of Hard Decisions: Applying Lessons from Wilderness Fire

Search NRFSN Hot Topics

Search the NRFSN Research & Publications Database

Fire Behavior-
Fire weather drives daily area burned and observations of fire behavior in mountain pine beetle affected landscapes

QUIC-fire: a fast-running simulation tool for prescribed fire planning

Modelling the effect of accelerated forest management on long-term wildfire activity

Rating Fire Danger from the Ground Up

Fire and Climate-
Climate change and future wildfire in the western USA: An ecological approach to nonstationarity

Fire Communications & Education-
Local public priorities and preferences for public land management in the Northern Region

The Hot-Dry-Windy Index: A new tool for forecasting fire weather

Fire and Wildlife-
Effects of restoration and fire on habitats and populations of western hummingbirds: A literature review

Animals as agents in fire regimes

Fire Effects-
Pyrogenic carbon generation from fire and forest restoration treatments
Forests and water yield: a synthesis of disturbance effects on streamflow and snowpack in western coniferous forests

Tackling Idaho’s Cheatgrass Challenge: A Call-to-Action to Reduce Cheatgrass and Other Invasive Annual Grasses in Sagebrush Country

Invasive grasses: A new perfect storm for forested ecosystems?

Fire History-
Millennial-scale climate and human drivers of environmental change and fire activity in a dry, mixed-conifer forest of northwestern Montana

Fire Management/Decision Support-
Exploring adoption of the wildland fire decision support system: end user perspectives

Fire Regimes-
Wildland fire reburning trends across the US West suggest only short-term negative feedback and differing climatic effects

Vegetation dynamics following compound disturbance in a dry pine forest: fuel treatment then bark beetle outbreak

Fuel treatment effectiveness in the context of landform, vegetation, and large, wind‐driven wildfires

Coupling terrestrial laser scanning with 3D fuel biomass sampling for advancing wildland fuels characterization

Fuel dynamics following wildfire in US northern Rockies forests

Mapping forest canopy fuels in the western United States with LiDAR-Landsat Covariance

Fuel Treatments - Prescribed Fire
Prescribed fire science: the case for a refined research agenda

Can prescribed fire do the work we hired it to do?

Human Dimensions of Fire Management-
Exploring the impact of resident proximity to wildfires in the northern Rocky Mountains: perceptions of climate change risks, drought, and policy

Operational Effectiveness-
Fire Suppression Resource Scarcity: Current Metrics and Future Performance Indicators

Post-fire Recovery-
Quantifying long-term post-fire sediment delivery and erosion mitigation effectiveness

Fire legacies, heterogeneity, and the importance of mixed-severity fire in ponderosa pine savannas

Content analysis of resilience in forest fire science and management

Risk Management-
After the fire: Perceptions of land use planning to reduce wildfire risk in eight communities across the United States

Modelling suppression difficulty: Current and future applications

Smoke Emissions-
AQVx - an interactive visual display system for air pollution and public health

Wildland firefighters are risking their mental health - HCN

COVID-19 complicates an already dire wildfire season - National Geographic

U of A wildfire expert to head up national research network - Folio

Firefighters will attack blazes quickly to avoid Coronavirus - E&E

As wildfires flare up across West, research highlights risk of ecological change -

OUTREACH: GS-408-12 Fire Ecologist. Virtual duty station with focus on analytics.

Association for Fire Ecology, July 2020

California Fire Science Consortium Newsletter, May 2020

Council of Western States Foresters, June 2020

Fire Learning Network, June 2020

Great Basin Fire Science Research and Events, July 2020

Northwest Fire Science Consortium Newsletter, June/July 2020

Southern Rockies Fire Science Network Newsletter, July 2020

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

Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation Newsletter, June 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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