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Fire Circles

Fire Circles provide an opportunity to advance important wildland fire science and management issues through discussions, working groups, or round tables. These discussion groups will be hosted in a Zoom meeting room with video and audio available for all participants and facilitated by the organizers. All interested attendees are invited to participate. 

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Wildfire risk can be compared to the shared, collective risk of social and environmental hazards as it can spread across boundaries and often requires collective action to mitigate. This discussion will focus on what characterizing wildfire as a collective action problem means for practice and pinpoint actionable recommendations to inform practice. Topics of covered include ask, what existing practices need to be amplified; what existing practices may not be the best fit with wildfire as a collective action problem; how does this “fit” with the cohesive strategy, shared stewardship, or other individual or multiagency initiatives? The goal of this Fire Circle is to provide a space to share and create innovative actionable adjustments to policy, research, and practice that align with wildfire as a collective action problem and to build relationships among and between researchers and practitioners.

Joint Fire Circle: Information Needs for the Management of Fire and Invasive Species

Organizers: Matt Brooks, USGS; Stanley W. Burgiel, National Invasive Species Council (NISC); Michael Zupko, Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC); Michele Crist, BLM Fuels Management and Fire Planning National Interagency Fire Center; Becky Kerns, USDA Forest Service

Much has changed since the last reference guide was created focused on the integration of fire and invasive species management (Zouhar et al. 2008). This fire circle will provide opportunity for Congress attendees to discuss, review, and suggest edits to a plan to build upon that document.

This Fire Circle will be attended by the organizers and speakers from the Special Session “Inter-relationships Between Invasive Plants and Fire Management”, plus anyone else who is interested in participating in providing input into an updated reference guide on fire and invasive species management. Specifically, we will discuss, review, and consider modifications to the structure, scope, and content of a document designed to provide an update to the 2008 Rainbow Series publication on fire/invasives [Zouhar, K, J Kapler Smith, S Sutherland, and ML Brooks (eds.) 2008. Wildland Fire in Ecosystems: Fire and Nonnative Invasive Plants. RMRS-GTR-42-volume 6. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. Ogden, UT. 355 pages]. Ideally, our publication team will have already created drafts of parts of this document leaving opportunities for modifications/additions that arise from the fire circle discussion. Our hope is that the Special Session will attract participants and spark interest in collaborating with our publication team during the 90 minute Fire Circle to bring in fresh perspectives and new content to maximize the completeness and effectiveness of the final publication product.

Advances and Challenges for Indigenous Fire Stewardship

Organizers: Don Hankins, California State University – Chico; Mary Huffman, The Nature Conservancy; Amy Cardinal-Christianson, Natural Resources Canada, Frank Lake, USDA Forest Service

This session highlights examples, implications, and challenges of Indigenous fire stewardship.

Indigenous peoples have played a significant role in shaping fire and climate resilient landscapes, but colonization and subsequent fire policy have created many issues ranging from wildfire impacts to ancestral homelands and threats to cultural continuity. The aftermath of recent fires has brought more attention to opportunities posed by Indigenous fire stewardship. Fire remains a fundamental element of Indigenous stewardship, and Indigenous peoples globally have been revitalizing their relationships with fire. Restoring Indigenous fire to the landscape is essential to achieving ecological and cultural outcomes in a climatically uncertain future. However, many challenges exist to achieving restoration of Indigenous stewardship including access to ancestral lands, capacity, funding, policy, and conflicting cultures of agencies and organizations. This session will draw upon panelists to discuss themes related to Indigenous fire stewardship for resilient and productive landscapes, opportunities for improved wildland fire management, and forging effective partnerships for implementation. The panels will be arranged to specific topical areas including 1) lessons in co-production of research and applied fire projects, 2) progress and status of Indigenous burning, and 3) a fire circle for audience engagement.

Post-fire tree mortality: understanding and modeling tree death and improving decision support

Organizers: Sharon M. Hood, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory; J. Morgan Varner, Tall Timbers Research Station; Matthew Dickinson, USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station

Tree mortality from wildfire fire has numerous consequences. Join us in a broader discussion building on the topics presented in our special session on tree mortality. This fire circle will cover future directions relating to physiological effects of fire on trees, mortality modelling, and increasing capacity in decision support systems.

Our goals align with our companion special session in that we would like to devote discussion to each of the three large topics covered in the session: physiological effects of fire on trees, mortality modeling (both statistical and process), predicting mortality from remote sensing, and increasing capacity in decision support systems. We aim to connect researchers and practitioners to develop ideas about how to best advance research in post-fire tree mortality and identify management needs for improvements in decision support.

The role of fire across U.S. oak forest ecosystems: sharing varied ecologies to realize unifying themes

Organizers: Michael Stambaugh, University of Missouri; Joe Marschall, University of Missouri / Oak Woodlands & Forests Fire Consortium

This discussion follows the special session focused on oak forest ecosystems and the challenges that they face with particular emphasis on fire ecology and management.

Actions for sustaining biodiversity in fire-prone ecosystems

Organizers: Luke Kelley, University of Melbourne; Robert Keane, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station; Katherine Giljohann: School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, University of Melbourne

This Fire Circle complements the special session ‘Actions for sustaining biodiversity in fire-prone ecosystems’. We will discuss how human actions are changing fire regimes across the globe and explore emerging actions and strategies for promoting biodiversity in ecosystems that experience fire.

Variation in fire regimes enables many plants to complete their life cycles, creates habitats for a range of animals, and maintains a diversity of ecosystems. Yet the effects of human activities are changing patterns of fire across the globe, to the detriment of biodiversity. A suite of emerging actions could be effective in promoting biodiversity in a new era of fire: from ‘managed wildfire’ in forests of North America; to diversified agricultural in the Mediterranean basin; to prescribed ‘patchy’ burns in nature reserves of southern Australia. This Fire Circle will help to bring together and develop these actions. It will explore when and where different actions and strategies have been implemented and evaluated, and how they are helping to promote biodiversity. We encourage scientists and practioners working in a range of ecosystems and at a range of career stages (including early career researchers) to attend.

Joint Fire Circle: Simulations and Modeling

Organizers: Alex Dye, Oregon State University; Nick Skowronski, USDA Forest Service

This discussion brings together presenters and interested attendees from two special sessions that focus on wildfire simulation modeling and emerging tools:

    • Wildfire simulation under future climate change: methods and applications
    • Coupled Fire Atmospheric Modeling: Advances, Applications, and Opportunities


Next generation tools for modeling fire behavior and their integrat​ion into fire-climate models will have positive impacts on the way researchers and fire planners account for short term fire effects, long-term ecological trajectories, climate-fire feedbacks, and scenario planning for fire treatments under ​climate change. The adoption, application, and development of these tools for ​this suite of needs requires both the engagement and creativity of managers and researchers. 

This Fire Circle will bring together fire and climate modeling communities to work with managers to discuss the needs and opportunities for the future of fire modeling applications. This Fire Circle will provide open space for Q&A with the modeling community to understand the basics of these tools, their current limitations, and future capabilities. We will encourage all participants to think about the challenges of fire management in the face of uncertainty, and how we can work together to apply these tools to address fire management needs now and in the future. 

Joint Fire Circle: The Nexus of Climate Change and Fire: Taking Science to Action

Organizers: Molly Hunter, Joint Fire Science Program/University of Arizona; Kevin Hiers, U.S. Geological Survey and Tall Timbers Research Station; Carolyn Enquist, U.S. Geological Survey Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center; Ed Brunson, Joint Fire Science Program; Barb Wolfson, Southwest Fire Science Consortium; Alison York, Alaska Fire Science Consortium; Adam Terando, U.S. Geological Survey Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center

This discussion brings together presenters and interested attendees from the special session focused on climate change and fire. 

Changing climate and expansion of the wildland urban interface and invasive species are driving dramatic changes in fire regimes with sometimes devastating consequences for ecosystems and society. Devising solutions to address this challenge requires an unprecedented level of cross-disciplinary, science-management, and cross-organizational collaboration and partnership at multiple scales. In the companion special session, scientists, practitioners, and boundary-spanners presented examples of innovative science, adaptation strategies, collaborations, and partnerships that have advanced adaptation to changing fire regimes. The purpose of this fire circle is to further the discussion and learn from participants on innovative approaches to addressing changing fire regimes and factors that lead to successful science-manager, cross-organizational collaborations and partnerships. Fire circle organizers will compile information shared in the fire circle and companion session and use it to inform future cross-agency partnerships and frameworks for advancing adaptation to changing fire regimes.