March 2021 Newsletter

In This Issue

Additional Events and Resources (Right Column)

Upcoming Workshop: Fire in the Crown of the Continent

After being postponed in 2020 due to Covid-19, we are looking forward to the 2021 Fire in the Crown of the Continent Forum, hosted by the Crown Managers Partnership in association with several agencies, organizations, Tribes, and the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network. The event will be held virtually from March 22nd to March 26th. Each day will feature a unique 4-hour session; the full agenda can be viewed here. Registration and information are available on the Forum website.

Each day of the forum will feature a new fire related topic:

March 22nd: Fire Past and Future: Fact, Fiction, and Uncertainty

March 23rd: Traditional Knowledge and Active Fire Use in the Crown

March 24th: Fire in the Human Environment

March 25th: Fire Management in Practice: Obstacles, Implementation and Successes

March 26th: Fire in Terrestrial and Aquatic Systems

The Crown Managers Partnership is a multi-jurisdictional partnership among federal, state, provincial, tribal, and first nation agency managers and universities in Montana, Alberta, and British Columbia. Annual forums facilitate networking opportunities, build collaboration, and deepen understanding of common issues in the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem.

Share Your Feedback - NRFSN Participants Survey

You may have recently been asked to fill out a short survey about the Fire Science Exchange Network by JFSP and the USGS. We appreciate everyone who provided feedback for the national program. The NRFSN is following up to gather specific information relevant to fire and fuels science information needs in the Northern Rockies. This spring, we will be distributing a separate survey to a random sample of NRFSN subscribers to learn more about your priority topics and the best way for us to support science-management communication and provide relevant science to you. When you see the survey, please take just a few minutes to help us make the NRFSN more effective at meeting your needs. Your input is important and will ensure that allocated resources are used to improve fire management in the Northern Rockies. We truly appreciate your time and look forward to your input!

Fire Science and Management Podcasts

Recently we've heard interest from managers in the availability of fire science and management related podcasts. We've started to feature new fire-related podcasts on our Upcoming Events page, and you can access previous series and episodes in our Webinar, Video and Podcast Archive

In July 2020, the Association for Fire Ecology (AFE) began hosting a podcast series featuring the latest research from the Journal of Fire Ecology, Fire Ecology Chats. In the future, AFE and the NRFSN plan to partner on paired podcasts-webinars to highlight research of interest in the Northern Rockies. The first pairing (podcast and webinar) came out in January, featuring Camille Stevens-Rumann and her work on post-fire tree regeneration in the western U.S. Stay tuned for more!

Other fire-related podcasts that our staff dug up include Fire University, Good Fire, Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, and the upcoming Fireline series. You can also search for and subscribe to most of these podcasts via your favorite podcast app.

If you come across any fire science or management related podcasts, please share them with us!

What's New in IFTDSS?

Check out the recent releases of the Interagency Fuel Treatment Decision Support System (IFTDSS)! They include:

  • Shapes and shapefiles from IFTDSS Reference Layers can be downloaded to your local computer.
  • Map Studio Data sources and metadata for IFTDSS Reference Layers have been updated for: BIA Admin Boundaries, BLM Admin Boundaries, County Boundaries, Electric Sub-Station, NPS Admin Boundaries, Power Plants, Transmission Lines, USFS Admin Boundaries, and USFWS Admin Boundaries.
  • There are several Fuel Treatment Effectiveness Monitoring (FTEM) updates, for example, improved FTEM wildfire retrieval times by over 50%.
  • Minimum Travel Time Fire Spread (MTT Fire Spread), which simulates fire spread and behavior based on user-specified ignitions and barriers, is now available to be run from Modeling Playground. Users can download MTT Fire Spread outputs or generate MTT Fire Spread reports. MTT Fire Spread is identical to the Short Term Fire Behavior (STFB) tool in WFDSS.
  • Several additions to help you keep your Workspace organized.

If you’re new to IFTDSS, it’s a web-based application for fuel treatment planning and analysis. IFTDSS provides access to data and models through one simple user interface and is available to all interested users, regardless of agency or organizational affiliation.

Whether you’re a new or returning user, you can access IFTDSS resources here.

IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Summit & Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference


Registration is now open for the (Virtual) Wildland Fire Safety Summit & Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference on May 24 - 27, 2021.

Since 1997, the International Wildland Fire Safety Summit has been the gathering place for members of the global wildland fire community to focus on how we keep our workforce and communities safe. This event is a time for us to discuss significant events and trends in safety, to promote best practices in safety training and operations, to share safety related research findings, and to explore new approaches to both firefighter and community safety. Likewise, since 2007, the Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference has aimed to advance the knowledge and practice related to the social, political, economic, psychological and other human aspects of managing fire prone landscapes.

This joint conference offers a forum where past experience and lessons learned are documented, current work showcased, and emerging ideas/technology presented to provide a strong foundation for reflection and action to set the future course of practice, management and research  in response to  local, regional, and global challenges. The 2021 conference will place particular, but not exclusive, emphasis on the COVID-19 and its effects on wildland fire management and our communities around the world.

-- From the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) Conference Website

View the agenda and register here!

2020 National Prescribed Fire Use Report

The National Association of State Foresters (NASF) and the Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils (CPFC) recently released the 2020 National Prescribed Fire Use Report.

Since 2011, the two organizations have partnered to prepare reports on prescribed fire activity, state-level programs, and barriers to prescribed fire implementation. These reports are designed for use among the prescribed fire community. 

This year’s National Prescribed Fire Use Report includes data on annual forestry/rangeland acres treated with prescribed fire. In 2019, 10,003,541 acres were treated – an increase of 28% compared to 2011. 2019 was also the first year the number of forestry/rangeland acres treated with prescribed fire in the U.S. exceeded 10 million. To view the full report, click here.

-- Adapted from an NASF December 17 press release.

prescribed burn

USGS Wildland Fire Strategic Plan

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has released their first Wildland Fire Science Strategic Plan. Use these links to access the Strategic Plan, Fact Sheet and other information about the program. 

The five-year science strategy defines critical science needs and directions for its wildland fire research. The strategy was developed by scientists and communication specialists at USGS and informed from interviews with 40 different stakeholder organizations.  

The new strategy guides USGS research in the 21st century. It prioritizes the production of innovative science, tools and resources that inform land management and provide an understanding of fire’s role in ecosystems and in human communities, before, during and after wildfires. 

For more information, see the USGS Wildland Fire website.

-- Adapted from a USGS February 23 press release

New Issue of Fire Management Today

The latest issue of Fire Management Today, a publication of the USDA Forest Service, is available here. Featuring articles on the Photoload Technique, prescribed fire and grazing, bark beetle and fire interactions, indigenous fire stewardship, risk management, and much more, this publication has something for everyone. 

Rocky Mountain Research Station Updates and Awards

  • Bret Butler retired from the Forest Service in December, 2020, after a 29-year career at the Missoula Fire Science Laboratory. Bret’s pioneering work incorporating wind, slope, and flame size into the determination of appropriate size of safety zones, has resulted in a new understanding of how energy is released from fires and its implications to firefighter safety. Bret’s groundbreaking work examining the relationship between landscape conditions and travel rates helps wildland firefighters optimize escape routes. The safety zone and escape route guidelines developed as a result of Bret’s research are now considered standard by the interagency fire community. These guidelines are currently policy in the Fireline Handbook and the IRGP guide that is carried by all wildland firefighters. Bret’s work has fundamentally changed firefighter training and how firefighters approach fire safety—no doubt Bret’s efforts directly, and indirectly saved lives.

    -- Thomas Dzomba, Deputy Program Manager, RMRS Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Program
  • Alan Ager, Research Forester, and Michelle Day, Biological Scientist, were honored with a 2020 U.S. Forest Service Chief’s Award and the Under Secretary’s award for the development of the Fireshed Registry and Scenario Planning Models. The Fireshed Registry is an all lands “living atlas” that organizes key information about past and predicted wildfire impacts to communities into a national fireshed map. The system also integrates information on past and planned forest and fuel management activities, providing users with the ability to map forest and fuel management activities relative to predicted wildfire events.

  • Research Ecologist Christopher “Kit” O’Connor, Missoula, was selected for the U.S. Forest Service’s Deputy Chief’s Science Delivery Award. Kit is responsible for the development, communication, and distribution of an atlas of Potential Control Locations and the Suppression Difficulty Index, which have revolutionized how wildfire risk is integrated into landscape planning and wildfire response operations. These tools have been used in the development of Potential Wildfire Operational Delineations (PODs) on more than 40 National Forests. Kit has played a critical role in delivering these tools to land managers through partnerships, workshops, videos, webinars, story maps, and more.

  • As a member of the Ozone Monitoring Methods Team, Research Physical Scientist Shawn Urbanski, Missoula, has been nominated for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Achievement Award for Accurate Ozone Measurements near Wildland Fires. The team was nominated for their work applying and rigorously testing new ozone (O3) measurement methods to identify and mitigate chemical interference experienced with legacy methods when impacted by smoke from wildland fires.

    -- Adapted from Rocky Mountain Research Station Press Releases


March 3
Fire severity: mapping past fires and predicting the future

March 4
Native American fire management at an ancient wildland-urban interface

March 10
Cross boundary fire risk mitigation webinar series - Moving from parcel risk assessments to building fire adapted communities

March 12
AFE Fire Ecology Trivia Webinar

March 24
Cross boundary fire risk mitigation webinar series - Designing suitable pathways to wildfire adaptation in and around communities: One size does not fit all

March 23-26
Fire in the Crown of the Continent

May 24-27
IAWF International Wildland Fire Safety Summit and Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference

October 4-8
National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop
Asheville, NC

October 5-7
H5II – The Second Conference on the Research and Management of High Elevation Five Needle Pines in Western North America
Missoula, MT and Virtual

The Pyrocene: How Humanity Created a Fire Age

Challenges and Opportunities for Increasing Prescribed Fire on Federal Lands in the West

Potential Operational Delineations: On the Ground Experiences and Future Directions

Wildfire-driven forest conversion in Western North American landscapes

Nine Insights from Living with PTSD: From Darkness to the Light, a Wildland Firefighter Perspective

Where and when are High Severity Fires More Likely to Occur? Predicting Severe Fire Potential across the United States with the FIRESEV Project

Tree regeneration following wildfires in the western United States 

Ghost Forests

How We Survive: Staving off drought and living with fire

AFE Fire Ecology Chats

Fire University Podcast

Fireline Podcast

Good Fire Podcast

Search NRFSN Hot Topics

Search the NRFSN Research & Publications Database

Fire and Climate-
Warmer and drier fire seasons contribute to increases in area burned at high severity in western US forests from 1985 to 2017

Fire and biodiversity in the Anthropocene

Pleistocene to Pyrocene: fire replaces ice

Projecting impacts of wildfire and climate change on streamflow, sediment, and organic carbon yields in a forested watershed

A climatic dipole drives short- and long-term patterns of postfire forest recovery in the western United States

Vegetation response to wildfire and climate forcing in a Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine forest over the past 2500 years

A changing climate is snuffing out post-fire recovery in montane forests

Fire and Economics-
How to measure the economic health cost of wildfires - a systematic review of the literature for northern America

Fire and Traditional Knowledge-
Goal setting and Indigenous fire management: a holistic perspective

Fire and Wildlife-
Post-fire growth of seeded and planted big sagebrush - strategic designs for restoring Greater Sage-grouse nesting habitat

Smokey the Beaver: beaver‐dammed riparian corridors stay green during wildfire throughout the western United States

Fire Ecology-
Topographic position amplifies consequences of short-interval stand-replacing fires on postfire tree establishment in subalpine conifer forests
Fire and land cover change in the Palouse Prairie–forest ecotone, Washington and Idaho, USA

Impact of unburned remnant sagebrush versus outplants on post-fire landscape rehabilitation - Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program

Vegetative and Edaphic Responses in a Northern Mixed Conifer Forest Three Decades after Harvest and Fire: Implications for Managing Regeneration and Carbon and Nitrogen Pools

A large database supports the use of simple models of post-fire tree mortality for thick-barked conifers, with less support for other species

Fire Regimes-
Tamm review: The effects of prescribed fire on wildfire regimes and impacts: A framework for comparison

Firefighter Health and Safety-
Responding to simultaneous crises: communications and social norms of mask behavior during wildfires and COVID-19

Fuel Treatments-
Ecological niches of tree species drive variability in conifer regeneration abundance following fuels treatments

Can we manage a future with more fire? Effectiveness of defensible space treatment depends on housing amount and configuration

Post-fire Management-
Effects of post-fire management on vegetation and fuels following successive wildfires in mixed conifer forests - Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program

Resources for Postfire Response: Empowering Land Managers with New After Fire Toolkit

Evaluating post-wildfire logging-slash cover treatment to reduce hillslope erosion after salvage logging using ground measurements and remote sensing

Post-fire Recovery-
Fire-catalyzed vegetation shifts in ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests of the western United States

Predicting forest recovery following high-severity fire - Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program

Exploring seedling-based aspen (Populus tremuloides) restoration near range limits in the Intermountain West, USA

Risk Management-
Building Loss in WUI Disasters: Evaluating the Core Components of the Wildland–Urban Interface Definition

Developing Behavioral and Evidence-Based Programs for Wildfire Risk Mitigation

Toward Fire-Adapted Rangeland Communities: A Policy Analysis of Outcome-Based Approaches to Managing Fire Risk in Idaho

Smoke and Air Quality-
Prescribed fires may mean safer smoke
Prescribed fires may mean safer smoke - Science Line

2020 wildfire season caused most structure loss in Montana since 2012 - Missoulian

TreeMap provides a tree-level map of U.S. forests - Rocky Mountain Research Station

Air Alert: UM research finds lingering health effects after major 2017 smoke event - Vision Magazine
Alaska Fire Science Consortium Newsletter, January 2021

California Fire Science Consortium Newsletter, February 2021

Great Basin Fire Science Research and Events, February 2021

Landfire Newsletter, February 2021

Northwest Fire Science Consortium Newsletter, February 2021

Southern Rockies Fire Science Network Newsletter, February 2021

Traditional Knowledge and Fire Newsletter, February 2021

Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation Newsletter, January 2021

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

Cory Davis, Science Communication Specialist  |  406.257.3166 
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

Pamela Sikkink, Fire and Fuels Information Specialist |  406.829.7343
US Forest Service, Missoula, Montana

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