More than 25 special sessions have been accepted for the 2023 Fire Congress. Each session will have several presentations related to the special session topic, with many including time for panels and facilitated discussion. Special sessions are scheduled for December 5-7 during the concurrent sesssion time blocks (see draft schedule).
Organizers: Autumn Ellison, Northwest Fire Science Consortium; Karen Dante-Wood, Joint Fire Science Program
Since 2010, the Fire Science Exchange Network’s 15 regional exchanges have developed networks of managers and scientists that facilitate communication to accelerate awareness and adoption of wildland fire science. This session will summarize lessons learned, review coproduction and needs assessment efforts, and highlight innovative approaches to connecting science and management.
The Fire Science Exchange Network (FSEN) was envisioned as a collaborative network of regional exchanges to help integrate the cascade of emerging fire science into management decisions and practices. From the first meeting in Oregon in 2010, 15 Fire Science Exchanges have developed regional networks of managers and scientists to facilitate communication. This special session will present key lessons learned by the Exchanges since they began, as well as innovative ideas for science delivery they have initiated. It will also examine how the Exchanges are engaging in co-production efforts and needs assessments in ways that broaden participation and deepen connections. As efforts and plans such as the 2014 National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy and the Forest Service’s 2022 Wildfire Crisis Strategy emphasize the need for greater inclusion, communication, and diverse partnerships to address urgent fire-related challenges nationally, the reflections and experience across the FSEN can provide valuable insights for igniting connection that more effectively merges science and management. We encourage scientists and managers to attend this session, including those familiar with the FSEN or specific Exchanges, and those looking to learn more about the diverse ways we work to link research and management. We also encourage participation in our Fire Circle (Communicating fire science: Increasing impact, improving management, and expanding connections with the fire community) for additional discussion and feedback about fire science needs and communication both nationally and regionally.
Organizer: Lisa M. Ellsworth, Oregon State University
The Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project is a regional experiment evaluating methods of fuel reduction and ecological restoration. 15 years ago, we implemented treatments at 19 sites across the Great Basin, and have collected annual fuel, vegetation, and climate data to understand changes in response to treatment, climate, and disturbance.
The Sagebrush Steppe Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP) is a regional experiment evaluating methods of fuel reduction and ecological restoration. 15 years ago, we implemented treatments at 19 sites across the Great Basin, and have collected annual fuel, vegetation, and climate data to understand changes in response to treatment, climate, and disturbance. In this special session we present results at the taxa and site levels from across the plot network (Session 1), discuss how plot level data have been used to model broad scale ecological processes (Session 2), and share how this broad-scale and long-term plot and data resource is being used to advance research, outreach, teaching, and monitoring for sagebrush-dominated ecosystems (Session 3). We close with a participatory activity and discussion aimed at co-producing future SageSTEP priorities with researchers and managers.
Organizer: Matthew P Thompson, USDA Forest Service
This special session will highlight advances and applications of wildfire risk management aiming to improve decisions and outcomes. Topics covered will include assessment, planning, decision support, and effectiveness monitoring. We aim to bring interdisciplinary perspectives and cover a range of geographies.
This special session will highlight advances and applications of wildfire risk management. The collective body of work aims to improve decisions and outcomes through delivery of actionable science that can dampen time pressures, reduce uncertainties, identify options, clarify risk-benefit tradeoffs, and facilitate performance measurement. Topics covered will include assessment, planning, decision support, and effectiveness monitoring. We aim to cover a range of geographies and management contexts and incorporate interdisciplinary perspectives including social science, econometrics, ecology, operations research, and systems thinking.
Organizers: Jonathan D Coop, Western Colorado University; Ellen Whitman, Canadian Forest Service; Sean Parks, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, US Forest Service
Extreme wildfire events defy management, disproportionately impact ecosystems and human communities, and are expected to increase under future climate in many areas. The goals of this session are to share what we know and assess what we don’t know and need to know.
Recent wildfire activity includes observations of extraordinary fire behavior and exceptionally rapid growth, leading to very large areas burned over brief periods of time (i.e., >1,000 – 100,000 ha in <24 hrs). Such extreme fire spread events account for a disproportionate share of the ecological and social impacts of wildfire, and can defy contemporary management approaches. The purpose of this organized session is to assess our current understanding of drivers and outcomes of extreme fire spread events, share recent methodological advances and new findings, identify persistent knowledge gaps, and explore management considerations. Topics of interest include the relative contributions of bottom-up vs. top-down factors in constraining or facilitating rapid fire growth, weather factors associated with extreme events, spatial and temporal patterns of variation in fire spread associated with climate and biogeography, historical precedence (or lack thereof), and how extreme events influence post-fire landscape patterns and resulting ecological outcomes. In addition to advancing our basic knowledge of fire behavior, ecology, and their interactions, this session will also provide new insights and directions around management tactics and strategies ranging from traditional incident management and fuels treatments to novel approaches that may be necessitated by an increasingly fiery future.
Organizers: Christopher J. Fettig, Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service; Michael D. Ulyshen, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service; Justin B. Runyon, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service
Fires and insects are major disturbances in North American forests. This session highlights recent efforts to improve understanding of the effects of fire on insects, and of the effects of insect epidemics on fuels and future wildfires.
Fire has direct and indirect effects on insects. Direct effects are expressed through insect mortality due to exposure to fire while indirect effects are expressed through changes in the structure and composition of plant communities. The nature of these changes, and their effects on insect communities, are highly complex as they depend on a variety of interacting factors including fire frequency, severity, size, and seasonality. Even less is known about how insects, in turn, affect fire characteristics. Some insect epidemics (e.g., bark beetles and defoliators) can exert large effects on forest fuels, but effects on wildfires are mixed. Differences in the severity, extent, and timing of epidemics, fire regimes, fire weather, topography, and the metrics and models used to assess wildfires, among other factors, confound our understanding of the effects of insect epidemics on wildfires.
Organizer: Adam Watts, USDA Forest Service
This Special Session will highlight some of the recent findings and project work by teams participating in the Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment.
The Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment (FASMEE) is a multi-agency project to collect coordinated active-fire measurements for use in advancing models of fire and smoke and the decision support tools benefitting management. Teams of collaborators include modelers, data managers, incident operations specialists, and researchers in areas related to fuels, fire ecology and effects, plume and emissions, energy, fire behavior, and meteorology. While planning and some data-collection activities occurred in prior years, 2023 marks a return to the field campaigns with a recent stand-replacing crown fire at the Fishlake National Forest in Utah, USA. This Special Session will allow longtime as well as new participants to share some results of their work across the spectrum of fire science represented in FASMEE.
Organizer: Kurt Kipfmueller, University of Minnesota
This session will present a state-of-knowledge update on fire in the Upper Great Lakes, including emerging concepts surrounding cultural fire use, the connections between fire and climate, and rethinking fire management approaches in sensitive landscapes.
The interaction between forests, fire, people, and climate in the Upper Great Lakes has developed over millennia. The dispossession of Indigenous lands and cultural oppression, coincident (but not unrelated) with the cutover of Great Lakes forests and aggressive fire suppression may have removed fire from the landscape, but it has not been forgotten. The development of new tree-ring based fire histories and the revitalization of the cultural use of fire has helped develop a better understanding of past fire use and activity. This session will focus on the role of fire in Upper Great Lakes landscapes with a focus on restoring fire to fire-dependent cultures and landscapes. We aim to connect various disciplines, and fire managers/practitioners to help improve our understanding of past fire while thinking critically about pathways forward to more active fire management in the Upper Great Lakes.
Organizer: Lea Condon, Western Ecological Research Center, United States Geological Survey
Increasing frequency and extent of fire plagues shrublands. Fire effects in these systems are rarely studied following fire alone and are often studied with compounding disturbances. Speakers in this session study and manage fire effects related to recruitment, life history traits, nutrient cycling and biological soil crusts in sagebrush or California shrublands.
Fire effects are understudied in shrubland systems when compared with forested systems. Fire regimes in semi-arid shrublands have been increasing in both frequency and extent, highlighting the need to examine fire across spatial and temporal scales. Studying fire in semi-arid shrublands in the western US is complicated by compounding disturbances, making it challenging to look at the effects of fire as a sole disturbance. The assembly of this special session highlights that fire is rarely studied as a sole disturbance in shrublands. This may be due in part to shrublands experiencing increased aridity, resulting in relatively slower post-fire recovery compared with other systems. Examinations and discussions of fire effects and compounding disturbances are necessary for the preservations of native shrubland plant communities.
When evaluating fire at fine scales, changes in nutrient cycling and biocrusts communities are patchy and recovery can be seen at time scales that differ from vegetation. In the absence of other disturbances, many biocrusts remain intact following fire, suggesting that fewer interspaces are open to invasion by annual invasive grasses where biocrusts occur.
Frequency of fire has effects that are separate from extent. In California shrublands, obligate seeding species need time to recover from dormant seedbanks following fire, if they are not going to be lost from a site. Looking at shrublands further east, sagebrush species tend to be colonizers, needing to seed in after fire with short-lived seed. Prescribed fire can be used as a management action, but the frequency of use is a question that could be matched with the life history strategies of native shrubs species. Spatial extent of management actions, such as prescribed fire, or other fuel reductions treatments is a consideration in sagebrush systems, as sagebrush individuals need to be present following fire to provide seed after fire. When mature sagebrush are not present onsite, managers apply seed in successive years in order to have viable seed align with weather conditions that allow for establishment.
We have assembled managers and scientists from federal agencies and universities to explore the topic of fire and compounding disturbances, including restoration, across spatial and temporal scales, in sagebrush and California shrublands. Disturbances at coarser spatial scales such as grazing by livestock, feral horses and fuel treatments further affect fire behavior and plant community composition present before and after fire. Understanding the effects of these disturbances is necessary to determine if they are moving us towards or further aways from post-fire management goals. Focusing on fire behavior can result in a shift of management objectives. Conditions that make fuel breaks most effective: an abundance of fine fuels and the accessibility of fuel breaks as access points to firefighting efforts are often in opposition with intact, native plant communities. Aiming to maintain or restore native plant communities, managers introduce novel disturbances. We will discuss these activities and if they are moving us closer or further from land management goals.
There is a need to balance resource protection with fuels reduction in shrubland systems. Studying fire effects in the absence of compounding disturbances can provide valuable insights into how shrublands recover, where these opportunities exist. Knowing that this is a rare condition, most speakers in this proposed session tackle the subject of fire effects in combination with a compounding disturbance or ecosystem function, increasing our understanding of how we might facilitate the recovery of native plant communities and or fire behavior.
Organizer: Michael Stambaugh, University of Missouri
This session highlights knowledge and current research related to the effects of fire on trees and wood products.
Fire effects on wood products was a major motivating factor for implementing fire suppression policies in the early 20th century. Today, as wildfires and prescribed fires increase in frequency, understanding the effects of fires on wood products (negative and positive) has become increasingly relevant. What might be the wood properties and products from forests exposed to frequent recurring fires? In this session we will explore the general understanding of fire effects on wood properties and highlight ongoing research related to bark charring, fire scarring on sawlogs, and industry perspectives.
Organizers: Mary Lata, USFS Tonto National Forest; Molly McCormick, Southwest Fire Consortium
The historic role of fire in the Sonoran Desert is mostly unknown, as are the potential ecological trajectories. Introduced grasses are rapidly converting large areas of desert into frequent fire systems. Presentations will explore a novel invasive species-fire cycle and management strategies to conserve biodiversity in these fragile systems.
The ecological trajectory of the Sonoran Desert is largely unknown. Large areas are rapidly transitioning into frequent fire systems driven primarily (but not exclusively) by introduced grasses. This session will cover what we do and don’t know about fire in the Sonoran Desert: historic and modern fire regimes; fire effects on vegetation, watersheds, soils, and wildlife; actions to reduce fuels and invasive grasses; and social-ecological vulnerability and resilience. There is little information available on the historic fire regimes of the Sonoran Desert prior to the influx of non-native grasses; the session will summarize much of what we do know and the differences between the historic fuel and vegetation and current conditions. Several presenters will discuss how the Sonoran Desert is shifting to a grass-driven, frequent fire system, as well as efforts that are underway to try to reduce the cover of introduced species. Little is understood about the effects of fire on the ecological processes in the Sonoran Desert, and this session will include a State of the Knowledge review of the effects of fire on wildlife of the Sonoran Desert, as well as a presentation on post-fire watershed response and recovery. Additionally, new research that compares species composition and seedbank diversity between burned vs. unburned areas will help inform management of some of the potential ecological trajectories of the Sonoran Desert. New technologies help fire managers anticipate where and when fires are likely to occur, and new applications of more traditional fuel treatment applications in the Sonoran Desert can help fire managers prepare for the fires that are now inevitable. This session will help land managers to better understand the potential ecological trajectories of the Sonoran Desert, help researchers understand the knowledge gaps, and together we will identify management strategies that will be sustainable for the ecological future of the Sonoran Desert.
Organizers: Michael Stambaugh, University of Missouri; Joseph Marschall, University of Missouri /Oak Woodlands & Forests Fire Consortium
This session aims to showcase varied U.S. oak forest ecosystems with emphasis on oak woodland fire management.
This session will showcase the variability in U.S. oak forest ecosystems by highlighting the challenges they face with particular emphasis on fire ecology and management. Presentations will cover ecosystems in the eastern deciduous forest, the Great Plains prairie-forest border, and central California. Presentations cover similar topics with an aim to identify potential unifying themes, disparities, and bridges for closing knowledge gaps. Topics will include historical ecology, ecosystem function, and current challenges and interests in sustaining oak forest ecosystems, including future directions in research and management.
Organizers: Sharon Hood, Missoula Fire Sciences Lab, USDA Forest Service; Duncan Lutes, Missoula Fire Sciences Lab, USDA Forest Service; Morgan Varner, Tall Timbers
Two themed blocks will cover the current state of modeling and upcoming changes, new research on plant thermal tolerance and incorporating fire effects into physics-based models, and climate research related to fire-caused tree mortality. This session will be a mix of presentations and discussions focusing on improving decision support systems. We would then follow the presentations with a Fire Circle for further discussion.
Predicting tree mortality from fire is important for achieving prescribe burning objectives and supporting postfire management decisions. Several decision support systems, such as the First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM), BehavePlus, and the Fire and Fuels Extension to the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FFE-FVS), predict tree mortality from fire. There are also several efforts to add tree mortality predictions into physics-based modelling tools, such as QUIC-fire. This session will identify ways to improve functions related to predicting fire-caused tree mortality in current decision support systems. We do this through a mix of presentations on recent research and in-depth panel discussions. The session is divided into two themed blocks. The first block covers the current state of modeling, climate and competition related to fire-caused tree mortality, and upcoming changes. The second block presents new research on plant thermal tolerance and efforts to incorporate crown scorch and tree mortality into physics-based modelling tools. Each block includes time for a panel discussion and will be followed by a Fire Circle.
Organizers: Susan Prichard, University of Washington, Cristina Eisenberg, Oregon State University in the College of Forestry; Marc-André Parisien, Canadian Forest Service
A cross-cultural team of scientists presents and discusses how Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and the best Western science is used in conserving old and mature forests across North America with specific examples of place-based stewardship.
Climate change is rapidly altering forest environments throughout the world, with a marked increase in the incidence and extent of drought, severe wildfires, insects and disease agents, and challenges for forest regeneration. Given their immense cultural and ecological value of forests, strategies for sustaining old and mature forests are being carefully considered, including a recent Executive Order by President Biden (14702: Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies). In this special session, we present a synthesis of the best-available science, considering the historical, pre-settlement context of old and mature forests, as well as forward-looking strategies for climate change adaptation. In doing so we are intentionally braiding together Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and the best Western science, called Two-Eyed Seeing. A cross-boundary issue for many forests is a legacy of settler colonialism and loss of Indigenous stewardship and beneficial fire. Based on the geographic diversity of forests and communities that live within them, we present and discuss our state-of-science report for major forested regions with an emphasis on the ecocultural restoration of fire in: (1) boreal and hemiboreal forests, (2) eastern temperate forests, (3) western interior forests, (4) California Mediterranean and Sierran forests, (5) west coast forests, and (6) subtropical desert/steppe. For each region, our team will highlight adaptation stories with specific examples of place-based stewardship.
Organizers: Tony Marks-Block, California State University – East Bay; Peter Nelson, UC Berkeley; Melinda M. Adams, University of Kansas; Don Hankins, California State University; Frank K. Lake, USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station
This session will explore the unique characteristics and eco-cultural effects of Indigenous burning in California, as well as how Indigenous communities and their collaborators are navigating the political landscape of fire research and management.
After centuries of a fire suppression paradigm in California that criminalized Indigenous peoples’ relationships with fire, federal and state policies and settler-public perspectives are shifting. After decades of advocacy from Indigenous leaders and activists, in 2021, California state law codified the practice of cultural burning (California Senate Bill 332), and land managers are beginning to collaborate with Indigenous peoples to incorporate cultural fire into management plans. Indigenous-led research approaches are fundamental to investigate various fire stewardship processes, practices, and protocols. This session will explore the unique characteristics and eco-cultural effects of Indigenous burning, as well as how Indigenous communities and their collaborators are navigating the political landscape of fire research and management.
Organizers: John Kim, USDA Forest Service Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center; Susan Charnley, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station; Jeremy Fried, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station; Becky Kerns, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station
This session presents results of several research studies carried out under a Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station Fire and Climate Adaptation Research Initiative focused on forests west of the crest of the Cascade Range. We address knowledge gaps related to climate-fire relationships, fire ecology, risk, and management in these wet and mesic forests.
Wildfire has been infrequent in the predominantly rain-soaked and dense “Westside” forests (west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains) of the Pacific Northwest since settlement by European colonialists. These forests include some of the most productive timberlands in the world, providing highly valued ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, endangered species habitat, drinking water, recreation and wood supply. However, wildfires here can profoundly change ecosystem conditions and leave social and economic disruption in their wake. More than 70 percent of the population of western Oregon and Washington lives on the Westside. Given the low incidence of post-European-settlement fire, abundant fuels, and concentrations of human settlement, climate change appears poised to transform Westside fire and the forests and communities in this region.
Using a purposeful and partnership-driven co-production framework, the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station launched a Westside Fire and Climate Adaptation Research Initiative in 2019. The Initiative has fostered synergy and collaboration among researchers and managers around critical knowledge gaps concerning climate-fire relationships, fire ecology, and opportunities for to promote fire resistance via forest management. In this session, we present our work across the principle themes prioritized by our partners when the Research Initiative was formulated: 1) historical, current, and future fire regimes and risk; 2) prospects for fire- and carbon-oriented management by forest landowners; and 3) post-fire management and ecosystem trajectories. Highlights include new fire histories that challenge conventional wisdom; the possibility for climate change to bring extreme fire events; wildfire ignition patterns associated with demographic patterns unique to the Westside; scenarios that indicate nearly half of Westside communities are vulnerable to future disaster; contrasting forest management strategies and viewpoints among forest landowner groups in coping with preparations for future stand-replacing fires; and long-term dynamics of delayed mortality and patterns and drivers of post-fire vegetation development. Research findings may reflect and stimulate inter-disciplinary explorations of fire ecology and management alternatives in other temperate rainforest regions around the globe.
Organizers: Don Hankins, California State Univ. Chico / Indigenous Stewardship Network; Amy Cardinal Christianson, Canadian Forest Service; Frank K. Lake, USDA Forest Service; Mary Huffman, The Nature Conservancy
Perspectives of Indigenous fire practitioners, researchers, policy makers, and allies on current and emerging issues for Indigenous burning.
Global interest in Indigenous fire stewardship has grown in recent years as communities seek solutions to address climate crisis impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function, health, emissions feedbacks, and other outcomes. While support for Indigenous fire is emerging through necessity, there is a lot to consider regarding historic consequences of fire and cultural exclusion and future opportunities. Existing and emerging opportunities offer insights into navigating the complex nature of Indigenous fire through topics including land access, policy, Indigenous ecocultural methodologies, cultural revitalization, and the right to burn. Much of this involves boundary spanning work in terms of partnerships, intergenerational engagement, and incorporating cultural frameworks into planning and implementation. The session will highlight global examples of works of and by Indigenous people and allies.
Organizers: Rebecca A. Koll, University of Exeter; Claire Belcher, University of Exeter; Cindy Looy, University of California, Berkeley
Wildfires have shaped our ecosystems for millions of years, with many plants showing physiological and life-history traits that allow them to survive within these fire-prone environments. Understanding the mechanisms driving acquisition of these traits is critical in assessing the dynamics of fire-behaviour with plant evolution and long-term plant fitness.
The world has recently seen the worst wildfires in human living memory, including the ongoing siege of California wildfires and 2019-2020 Australian bushfires, which burnt 72,000 square miles. Many plants in fire-prone ecosystems possess fire-related or fire-adapted strategies that allow them to survive the effects of wildfires. However, the driving mechanisms of the acquisition of many of these traits and whether they are true adaptations to fire (where fire is the driving force of their evolution) or whether they may be exaptations (from other drivers, but that have been co-opted to also assist survival in fires) is a topic hotly debated in fire ecology. This is problematic as it makes it difficult to assess the fitness of such traits in the current day and more critically their ability to respond to shifting fire-regimes into the future. Predictions indicate that global warming will enhance the number of high fire risk days in most fire-prone regions. Therefore, linkages between the flammability of plants, the fire behaviour that they generate and the fire proneness that ensued over the history of a trait must be reconciled throughout evolutionary time across phylogenies if we wish to effectively direct resources in response to fire-management. This session focuses on an in-depth, multidisciplinary discussion of the temporal dynamics of fire-behaviour and plant evolution, exploring the factors shaping plant fitness in the face of our changing climate to better understand large-scale threats to planetary habitability. As such we welcome contributions from deep evolutionary time through to modern day analyses.
Organizers: Courtney Schultz, Colorado State University; Briar Goldwyn, U.S. Geological Survey’s Fort Collins Science Center
Increasingly, communities, governments, and individuals must be ready to respond to large fires and post-fire hazards. This special session brings together researchers from multiple universities, agencies, and projects to discuss research on post-fire hazard consequences from multiple disciplinary perspectives. In particular, we will consider the social and policy factors that facilitate or impede post-fire response and recovery.
Fires are increasing in frequency, size, and severity, making the social, policy, and general governance context of post-fire response, recovery, and subsequent planning increasingly important for communities and governments in fire-prone forests. In this session, we will explore the post-fire context, including policies in play and how they are working (or not working) across jurisdictions and for multiple recovery challenges, which include reforestation, soil stabilization, and watershed recovery. We also explore across multiple disciplines the cascading consequences of post-fire hazards, interventions, or institutional actions that actors identify to reduce the likelihood or severity of those consequences and promote recovery. Speakers will present research on how communities, governments, and individuals across the western U.S. are facilitating progress in the post-fire environment and where there are needs for improvement and greater multi-disciplinary understanding.
Organizers: Alison Deak, University of California Cooperative Extension; Chris Adlam, Oregon State University; Jared Childress, University of California Cooperative Extension; Barb Satink Wolfson, University of California Cooperative Extension; Lenya Quinn Davidson, University of California Cooperative Extension
Prescribed Burn Associations (and their analogs) are increasingly being organized as a mechanism for burning down imaginary boundaries between agencies, tribes, landowners, and other stakeholders. Through cooperative burning, PBAs are facilitating pathways for diverse firelighters to work together towards a common goal of bringing good fire back to pyro-deficient landscapes.
Prescribed Burn Associations (PBAs) and similar organizations operating through a cooperative burning model are increasingly being organized in the United States as a mechanism for facilitating prescribed burning across real and imagined boundaries. Through mutual aid networks, they are facilitating new pathways for agencies, tribes, landowners, and other stakeholders to collaboratively reach the common goal of reintroducing fire to landscapes for various ecological objectives while building a community around prescribed fire, fostering a sense of stewardship amongst members, and providing opportunities for education and outreach to the wider community. This special session aims to share how the cooperative burning model is being implemented in California and more widely across the United States to meet the unique needs of communities and reduce the barriers to prescribed fire.
Organizer: Catrin Edgeley, Northern Arizona University
This session shares emergent findings from research to reduce unwanted human-caused wildfire ignitions. Attendees will learn about current public attitudes towards wildfire prevention, resource needs and challenges for prevention professionals, and key methodologies that can gather insights related to prevention that can be applied in different social and ecological contexts.
Human-caused ignitions have increased in frequency over the past three decades, leading to an uptick in large wildfires across the US. Identifying strategies that can contribute to appropriate fire prevention is critical for prioritizing ecosystem health and public safety moving forward under climate change. This session reviews various research efforts designed to explore this topic further, guided by input from managers and local officials across several locations. Presentations in this session include a region-wide GIS analysis to identify trends in human-caused ignitions, a survey of 710 public land users across three national forests, and semi-structured interviews with fire prevention specialists across Arizona and New Mexico. Attendees will learn about current public attitudes towards wildfire prevention, resource needs and challenges for prevention professionals, and key methodologies that can gather insights related to prevention that can be applied in different social and ecological contexts.
Organizers: Rachael Nolan, Western Sydney University; Ryan Tangney, University of New South Wales
Fire adapted vegetation is at risk from changing fire regimes and compound disturbance events triggered by climate change. This session brings together diverse talks on the drivers of failed post-fire recovery. Talks range from changes in fire regime, including shifts in fire frequency and seasonality, and compound disturbance events, including drought.
Record-breaking fire seasons in recent years raise important questions about the capacity of vegetation to respond to shifting fire regimes (i.e., changing fire frequency, severity and seasonality); and compound disturbance events (e.g. drought, insect infestation). In this session we bring together researchers working on a diverse range of fire-adapted vegetation types, that are at risk of failing to recover following fire. This includes vegetation with a range of fire adaptation strategies, including fire-cued seed germination, and post-fire resprouting. Research presented in the session can include mechanistic research that examines the underpinning drivers of post-fire recovery failure, as well as landscape scale studies.
Organizers: Emily Jane Davis, Oregon State University; Christina Restaino, University of Nevada, Reno
We will share and discuss examples of how Cooperative Extension supports the application of interdisciplinary fire science to management and practice. Participants will learn about what Extension does, and hear ideas for increasing the impact and effectiveness of their work through new approaches to outreach, engagement, and capacity building.
The U.S. now has Extension fire programs in many states. These programs vary in scope, but all center on the trusted role that Cooperative Extension holds in meeting on-the-ground needs by serving landowners and communities with science-based education and capacity building opportunities. The goals of this special session are to: 1) elevate examples of innovations from wildfire and prescribed fire Extension programs, and 2) increase mutual understanding and capacity for partnership among Extension practitioners, fire scientists, and land and fire managers. We offer a series of short, engaging presentations and panel discussions highlighting fire Extension efforts from around the country, and specifically how those efforts apply interdisciplinary fire science and partnerships to be effective. We encourage scientists and managers to attend, including those who already work with Extension, and those who are new to learning about Extension and would like to explore new ways to increase the application and impact of their work. We also encourage participation in our related Fire Circle for more dialogue.
Organizers: Adriana Ford, Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society, Imperial College London; Abigail Croker, Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society, Imperial College London
How can science and management be equitably and effectively connected in the context of wildfires? This session aims to learn from examples of diverse fire challenges across the world, including how different ways of knowing are brought together, how equity, inclusion and legacy are approached, and lessons learnt.
In this session we visit several case studies from the Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society tackling diverse fire challenges by collaborating with local management or policy partners. Focusing on projects that go beyond science-science collaborations or engagement with people solely as research participants, we will explore: (a) how the partnerships have been formed and the mutual (expected or realised) benefits; (b) how different ways of knowing are being brought together; (c) how equity, inclusion and in-situ legacy are being approached, and; (d) the challenges and lessons learnt. Through looking at examples from different countries and continents, with different ecosystems and socio-political contexts, this session aims to draw out broader lessons for the ‘fire family’.
Organizers: Jamie Peeler, University of Montana; Kimberley Davis, USDA Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station; Tyler Hoecker, University of Montana; Kerry Metlen, The Nature Conservancy; Svetlana Yegorova, University of Montana
This special session features presentations on the ways forests and communities are vulnerable to changing fire activity. Additionally, presentations highlight actions for coping with change and building social adaptive capacity through Indigenous-led fire stewardship, risk-informed strategic fire management, building better in the wilderness-urban interface, and proactive forest management.
Fire activity is changing worldwide and posing significant risk to people, property, and ecosystems. For people residing in forested areas, mitigating that risk requires taking action to reduce the vulnerability of their surrounding forests and community. Accordingly, this special session brings together interdisciplinary researchers to share timely information on forest and community vulnerability. The first set of speakers will discuss how forests and communities are exposed and sensitive to changing fire activity. The second set of speakers will highlight actions for coping with change and building social adaptive capacity through Indigenous-led fire stewardship, risk-informed strategic fire management, building better in the wilderness-urban interface, and proactive forest management. Each set will conclude with a moderated speaker panel and audience Q&A.
Organizers: Tom Little Bear Nason, Esselen Tribe of Monterey County; Timothy Ingalsbee, Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (FUSEE)
This special session will raise awareness of the many eco-cultural impacts on Native American cultural resources and heritage sites from fire exclusion and aggressive fire suppression. Speakers will provide examples of ways to prevent or mitigate these impacts in fire management policies, plans, and operations to promote Indigenous sovereignty and environmental justice.
Native peoples and native species in North America co-evolved with recurring fire on the land. Indigenous peoples intentionally used fire to steward habitats that provided food, fiber, medicine, and nurtured spirit. But this vital inter-relationship between people and fire was broken when federal and state agencies took control over Native homelands, Indigenous cultural burning practices were prohibited and fire exclusion policies were imposed, bolstered by systematic fire suppression. Traditional harvesting and hunting grounds and trail networks that were maintained for millennia by cultural burning and lightning fires have been degraded by decades of fire exclusion, and are now being devastated by the sudden return of high-severity wildfires. Though few non-Native individuals may recognize it, fire exclusion and wildfire suppression perpetuate the pain of Euroamerican colonialism and constitute a unique form of environmental racism. Indeed, firefighters doing aggressive initial attack on sites that are held sacred to local Indigenous people may feel like a modern version of a U.S. cavalry charge. The militaristic style of conventional firefighting can cause great harm to Native cultural resources and heritage sites. For example, dozerlines along ridgetops can obliterate rock cairns marking vision quest prayer seats. Aerial retardant drops can kill native fish and poison plants used for food or medicine. High-intensity backfires can destroy heritage tree groves that were stewarded for many generations. After wildfires are out, newly exposed heritage sites lack protection from looting by artifact poachers. Each one of these routine actions and impacts before, during, or after wildfires can cause immense pain to local Indigenous communities. This special session will raise awareness of the many eco-cultural impacts of fire exclusion and aggressive fire suppression on Native cultural resources and heritage sites. Speakers will provide examples of ways these impacts can be prevented or mitigated in fire management plans and suppression operations. Defending sacred sites from firefighting damage, and promoting the sovereign rights of Indigenous fire practitioners to use fire to maintain their cultural resources, religious ceremonies, and steward the land can become valuable steps towards healing from the legacy of colonialism through promoting environmental justice.
Organizers: Derek Young, University of California, Davis; David Green, Cal Poly Humboldt; Andrew Latimer, University of California, Davis
Presentations and discussion on recent research into tree seed dynamics in the context of post-fire forest recovery, including seed production, seed predation, seed banking, seed ripening and dispersal phenology, and seed availability, as well as the role of seeds in active post-fire restoration.
In forests of western North America, ecologists and land managers are increasingly observing poor tree seedling recruitment following high-severity fire. Research into the drivers has focused largely on (a) the limited potential for seeds to disperse into increasingly large high-severity patches and (b) the role of the abiotic environment. Aside from dispersal, however, many other key processes affecting seed availability after fire have been less explored. For example, studies of the importance of interannual and spatial variation in seed production are constrained by the difficulty of reconstructing seed crop sizes at the time of fire. Granivory after fire has attracted little attention from researchers. The capacity of ripe seeds to survive in the canopies of non-serotinous fire-killed trees has barely been examined. The phenology of seed ripening and dispersal, and their interaction with fire timing, remain essentially unexplored. Finally, recent work is demonstrating the value of quantifying availability of seed sources by integrating their proximity and abundance. Given the increasing challenges to natural post-fire forest recovery and growing recognition of the critical role of seeds, it seems timely to bring together researchers interested in the diverse facets of post-fire seed availability to present and discuss new empirical work.
Organizers: Kara M Yedinak, USDA Forest Service
New lines of research are underway tying acoustic emissions to the flame dynamics and source characteristics of wildland fire. This special session highlights a few of these efforts and brings acoustics and wildland fire experts together for a dynamic discussion about the role of sound in fire science.
The sound of fire has long provided experienced practitioners with critical information about their environment. At the same time, acousticians have been making great advances in combustion sciences for a wide variety of applications. This special session pulls fire science, traditional knowledge, and combustion acoustics together to develop depth in the understand of acoustic emission related to the flame dynamics of wildland fire. This special session highlights a few of these efforts and brings acoustics and wildland fire experts together for a dynamic discussion about the role of sound in fire science.
Organizers: Paige Fischer, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor); Heidi Huber-Stearns, University of Michigan; Francisca N. Santana, University of Washington
Wildfires often co-occur with other acute and chronic stressors such as smoke, heat, drought, and power shut offs. Mitigating the risks of one stressor can sometimes exacerbate the effects of or impede responses to other stressors. This session explores conceptual and empirical work investigating the interactions and feedbacks among wildfire related stressors and risk mitigation efforts.
While it is well-recognized that individuals and communities can take actions to reduce the risk and severity of wildfire impacts, some risk mitigation efforts can interact with one another in complex ways–mitigation efforts can exacerbate the effects of or impede the ability of people to respond to co-occurring wildfire-related stressors. For example, wildland fires can occur during heat waves and be accompanied by power shut offs to prevent further ignitions and fire damage to infrastructure. Heat and power disruption can exacerbate the mental and physical effects of fire and smoke, preventing people from taking protective actions such as closing windows, running ventilation systems, communicating with emergency responders, and working outside to extinguish flames or evacuate. In the context of drought, post-fire tree planting and forest recovery efforts can stress limited water supplies, especially during drought conditions, and contribute more flammable fuel to fire-prone systems, further exacerbating wildfire risk for communities. The synergistic interactions between various wildfire-related stressors and risk mitigation efforts creates a complex environment for decision-making. In this special session, presenters will share recent conceptual and empirical work on interactions and feedbacks among wildfire stressors and risk mitigation efforts. Presentations will report on topics such as: how households are protecting themselves from wildfire and smoke events in areas where power disruption is also likely, managing for post-fire recovery in cyclically dry forest ecosystems, and community wildfire prevention in the context of managed forests.