More than 20 special sessions have been accepted for the 2019 Fire Congress. Session titles, organizers, and a short summary are listed below. Each session will have several presentations related to the special session topic, with many including time for panels and facilitated discussion.
Special Sessions – Tuesday, November 19
ForBio Southwest: Engineering, Economics and Ecology to Guide Forest Restoration in the Southern Rocky Mountains
Organizer: Mike Battaglia, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station; Nate Anderson, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station
This special session will describe the results from a large scale research project, ForBio Southwest, which evaluates current forest operations and biomass supply chains, quantifies the financial and social benefits of displacing fossil fuels with forest-based biomass, and evaluates the changes in fire behavior, fuels, vegetation, and soil under various levels of biomass harvest in restoration treatments.
Towards a Mechanistic Understanding of Interactions between Fire and Previous Disturbances: Recent Advances and New Surprises
Organizers: Brian Buma, Integrative Biology, University of Colorado; Jeffery Cannon, Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, Colorado State University
Forest disturbances such as fire, insect outbreaks, and windthrow occur upon a mosaic of previously disturbed ecosystems and an increasingly changing climate. This session will bring together field, manipulative, and modeling scientists to present, discuss, and bridge knowledge gaps related to new and emerging mechanisms and feedbacks of disturbance interactions.
Fuel and Wind as Determinants of Fire Spread: Externalities Versus Complex Feedback – When and Where?
Organizers: Jon E. Keeley, U.S. Geological Survey, Sequoia National Park, USA; Ross Bradstock, Director of Centre for Environmental Risk Mngmt, University of Wollongong, Australia
In recent years an explosion of large catastrophic wildfires has afflicted many parts of the world. Appropriate responses requires an understanding of factors driving these fires and it is clear that some fires differ in the factors playing a dominant role. Here we seek to explore how fuel-dominated fires differ from wind-dominated fires, which appear to differ in geographical distribution, past land management, ignition sources, seasonal timing, and appropriate management responses.
Fire Severity and Ecosystem Response
Organizer: Matthew Hurteau, University of New Mexico; Joseph Crockett, University of New Mexico
The interaction of wildfire and climate change is compounding a legacy of past management and altering the way wildfire interacts with ecosystems. The goal of this session is to present research on the effects of fire severity on a wide array of ecosystem responses, for a diversity of systems.
Fire in the Last Frontier: 21st Century Fire Patterns, Behavior, and Pyroecology of North American Boreal Forests and Tundra
Organizer: Rachel Loehman, US Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center
In boreal and tundra ecosystems of North America the accelerating presence of climate-driven changes in wildfire patterns is associated with altered ecosystems and feedbacks to future wildfire activity. This session includes studies on shifting wildfire patterns, impacts to ecosystems and future fire risk, and new approaches for predicting fire activity.
Cultivating Pyrodiversity Through Outreach and Education: Partnerships with Cooperative Extension
Organizer: Susie Kocher, University of California Cooperative Extension Central Sierra
Pyrodiversity should be cultivated across multiple landownerships, including private lands. Currently, the role of Cooperative Extension in outreach and education about wildland fire is expanding across ownerships. This session will focus on wildland fire programs by extension personnel from land grant universities and partnerships with fire practitioners, agencies, and organizations.
Restor(Y)Ing Indigenous Fires: Modern Applications and Practices
Organizer: Don L. Hankins, California State University – Chico and California Indian Water Commission
Indigenous peoples have stewarded the landscape with fire since time immemorial yet struggle to retain sovereign rights to maintain such today. This session features global examples of Indigenous fire stewardship, and implications for broader societies and opportunities within wildland fire management.
Special Sessions – Wednesday, November 20
Manipulation of Vegetation for Livestock and Wildlife Using Prescribed Fires in Texas and North of Mexico
Organizer: Silverio Ávila, Texas A&M University – Kingsville (CKWRI)
Research studies conducted in Texas and Mexico, with topics related to the use of fire for the improvement of rangelands for livestock and wildlife, including seasonal burning comparison of coastal prairies, deer habitat improvement and forage quality improvements.
Understanding the Use of Fire Disturbance in Ecosystem Process Modeling and Forest Change Predictions
Organizers: Tirtha Banerjee, University of California, Irvine; Rod Linn, Los Alamos National Lab; Kevin Hiers, Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy
We invite experimental and modeling studies on the spatiotemporally multiscale nature of fire disturbance in forest ecosystems as well as compound effects such as insect mortality, change of runoff volume and quality, response to wind regimes, as well as effects of long-term climatic shifts and effects of forest management activities.
Fire Regimes and Species Diversity in the American Southwest and Adjacent Regions of Mexico
Organizer: Hugh D Safford, USDA Forest Service
Fire regimes have major influences on ecological communities, and acute changes in disturbance regimes can have major consequences for ecosystems and biota. This symposium examines the links between fire regimes and biodiversity in southwestern US and northern Mexican ecosystems.
The Policy Landscape of Wildfire and Fuels Management in the United States
Organizer: Lauren McCain, Defenders of Wildlife
U.S. Government leaders have responded to increasingly expensive, destructive, and deadly wildfires with legislation and other policies. Is decisionmaking in Washington achieving community safety, ecosystem resilience, local economic security, natural resource conservation, and additional stated objectives? This panel explores how the changing policy landscape is affecting land management and stakeholders.
Restoring Structure and Pattern to Frequent Fire Forests in the Western U.S.: Moving from Historical Data to Implementation and Outcomes
Organizers: Eric Knapp, USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station; Mike Battaglia, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station
Conifer-dominated forests of the western U.S. shaped by frequent fire were generally highly heterogeneous, a structure that not only promoted biodiversity but was resilient to wildfire. In this session, we highlight new developments and initial outcomes from studies using historical stand data to guide thinning.
A Global Synthesis of Pyrodiversity and Biodiversity Relationships: Implications for Effective Fire Management
Organizers: Katherine Giljohann, The University of Melbourne; Luke Kelly, The University of Melbourne; Trent Penman, The University of Melbourne; Alan York, The University of Melbourne
The relationship between fire regimes and biodiversity is complex – with many knowledge gaps. Experts from the US, Australia, Spain and Brazil will address the role of interactions, multiple mechanisms, refuges, legacies, feedbacks and novel regimes on pyrodiversity-biodiversity relationships. Followed by a discussion of implications and insights for management.
The Evolving Wildfire Risk Governance System
Organizer: Benjamin Gray, University of Montana; Maureen Essen, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station
Realizing the vision of the Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy requires changes to the fragmented wildfire governance system. Diverse actors must balance different priorities, risk tolerances, policy preferences, data interpretations, and other concerns as they work across ecological, jurisdictional, and normative boundaries to build collaborative relationships.
Bridging the Gap: Lessons from the First Ten Years of the JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Organizer: David R. Godwin, University of Florida
The Fire Science Exchange Network was started 10 years ago by the Joint Fire Science Program to connect relevant and timely fire science information with natural resource and wildland fire managers. Since that time, the unique exchanges have developed innovative boundary-spanning programs that tackle regional fire management challenges. This special session will survey the development and growth of the exchanges, showcase their successes and lessons in boundary-spanning and look to the future of fire science translation, collaboration and communication.
Special Sessions – Thursday, November 21
Southwest FireCLIME: A Research Partnership Evaluating Fire-Climate Change Dynamics and Management Implications in the Southwest
Organizer: Andi Thode, Northern Arizona University School of Forestry
The FireCLIME team will share a series of five brief talks on the results of their multi-year research partnership addressing future fire-climate dynamics in the southwestern U.S. Presentations include science synthesis and modeling outputs, as well as new decision-making tools for managers.
The Unique Considerations for Prescribed Fire Research and Application
Organizer: Courtney Schultz, Colorado State University
We explore how the context of prescribed fire is distinct from that of wildland fire. Bringing together social and biophysical scientists, we discuss: governance strategies that support application of prescribed fire; considerations for modeling and measurement of prescribed fire behavior and effects; and research and science communication priorities.
Effectiveness of Fire and Fuel Treatments to Promote Resilience to Drought
Organizers: Jeffrey Kane, Humboldt State University; Sharon Hood, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station
The proposed special session will share the latest scientific findings that evaluate the effectiveness of fire and fuels treatments to promote resistance and resilience to drought across a wide range of ecosystems and perspectives.
Pyrodiversity of Fire-Included and Fire-Excluded Yellow Pine and Mixed Conifer Ecosystems: Relevance to Future Climate and Wildfire Adaptation
Organizer: Keala Hagmann, Applegate Forestry LLC & University of Washington
As we better understand climatic trends, we’re faced with determining which landscape configurations of vegetation and fuels will support evolving ecosystems and our expectations for them. A broader understanding of spatio-temporal interactions between climate, vegetation, and topography informs recommendations for wildfire and climate adaptation in the 21st century.
Burned Area Emergency Response
Organizer: Richard Schwab, National Park Service
The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) session will examine the science of behind post-fire emergency stabilization and rehabilitation treatments. Researchers will be presenting their findings for this field of study. Session topics include: Assessing Post-Fire Values at Risk, Post-Fire Runoff/Erosion Prediction, BAER Treatment Effectiveness, BAER Monitoring Techniques, and BAER Lessons Learned.
Unmanned Aircraft in Fire Research and Management
Organizer: Adam Watts, Desert Research Institute
As unmanned aircraft become more affordable, they are increasingly being employed as tools for fire research and management. This proposed special session will provide both an overview for those new to UAS and in-depth presentations on specific uses of UAS in fire science during the past few years.
The Many Dimensions of Transboundary Wildfire
Organizer: Kit O’Connor, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station; Chris Dunn, Oregon State University
Federal, state, and municipal policies toward wildfire management have not kept pace with the increasing size and complexity of wildfires. A new emphasis on shared stewardship and understanding that fire should be managed at landscape and not ownership scales is pushing the fire community to re-assess planning and incident management.
The Burning Fire Within: Local Prescribed Fire Initiatives for Landscape-Level Change
Organizer: Ryan Wilbur, University of Wyoming
A collaborative social movement has emerged focused on addressing the many social concerns surrounding the utilization of prescribed fire as a management tool. We will talk about local initiatives (e.g. Prescribed Burn Associations) who aim to address those concerns to ensure fire remains a viable management option for future generations.