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  • PDF icon Download publication: Mansuy N., Miller C., Parisian M., Parks S. A., Batllori E., and Moritz M. A. 2019. Contrasting human influences and macro-environmental factors on fire activity inside and outside protected areas of North America. Environmental Research Letters, 14(2019): 064007.
    View Abstract for Contrasting human influences and macro-environmental factors on fire activity inside and outside protected areas of North America

    Abstract for Mansuy N., Miller C., Parisian M., Parks S. A., Batllori E., and Moritz M. A. (2019). Contrasting human influences and macro-environmental factors on fire activity inside and outside protected areas of North America

    Human activities threaten the effectiveness of protected areas (PAs) in achieving their conservation goals across the globe. In this study, we contrast the influence of human and macro-environmental factors driving fire activity inside and outside PAs. Using area burned between 1984 and 2014 for 11 ecoregions in Canada and the United States, we built and compared statistical models of fire likelihood using the MaxEnt software and a set of 11 key anthropogenic, climatic, and physical variables. Overall, the full model (i.e. including all variables) performed better (adjusted area under the curve ranging from 0.71 to 0.95 for individual ecoregions) than the model that excluded anthropogenic variables. Both model types (with and without anthropogenic variables) generally performed better inside than outside the PAs. Climatic variables were usually of foremost importance in explaining fire activity inside and outside PAs, with anthropogenic variables being the second most important predictors, even inside PAs. While the individual contributions of anthropogenic variables indicate that fire activity decreased as of function of increasing human footprint, the anthropogenic effects were often substantially greater than those of physical features and were comparable to or even greater than climatic effects in some densely developed ecoregions, both outside and within PAs (e.g. Mediterranean California, Eastern Temperate Forest, and Tropical Wet Forests). Together, these results show the pervasive impact of humans on fire regimes inside PAs, as well as outside PAs. Given the increasing attractiveness of PAs, the implications for adaptive fire management beyond the concept of naturalness in the PAs are discussed. Our assessment of human-altered fire activity could serve as an indicator of human pressure in PAs; however, we suggest that further analysis is needed to understand specific interactions among fire, human pressures, and the environmental conditions at the scale of PAs.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parisien, M., Dawe, D.A., Miller, C., Stockdale, C.A., and Armitage, O.B. (2019). Applications of simulation-based burn probability modelling: a review. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 28: 913-926.
    View Abstract for Applications of simulation-based burn probability modelling: a review

    Abstract for Marc-Andre Parisian, Denyse A. Dawe, Carol Miller, Christopher A. Stockdale, and Bradley Armitage (2019). Applications of simulation-based burn probability modelling: a review

    Wildland fire scientists and land managers working in fire-prone areas require spatial estimates of wildfire potential. To fulfill this need, a simulation-modelling approach was developed whereby multiple individual wildfires are modelled in an iterative fashion across a landscape to obtain location-based measures of fire likelihood and fire behaviour (e.g. fire intensity, biomass consumption). This method, termed burn probability (BP) modelling, takes advantage of fire spread algorithms created for operational uses and the proliferation of available data representing wildfire patterns, fuels and weather. This review describes this approach and provides an overview of its applications in wildland fire research, risk analysis and land management. We broadly classify the application of BP models as (1) direct examination, (2) neighbourhood processes, (3) fire hazard and risk and (4) integration with secondary models. Direct examination analyses are those that require no further processing of model outputs; they range from a simple visual examination of outputs to an assessment of alternate states (i.e. scenarios). Neighbourhood process analyses examine patterns of fire ignitions and subsequent spread across land designations. Fire hazard combines fire probability and a quantitative assessment of fire behaviour, whereas risk is the product of fire likelihood and potential impacts of wildfire. The integration with secondary models represents situations where BP model outputs are integrated into, or used in conjunction with, other models or modelling platforms.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Hessburg PF, Miller CL, Parks SA, Povak NA, Taylor AH, Higuera PE, Prichard SJ, North MP, Collins BM, Hurteau MD, Larson AJ, Allen CD, Stephens SL, Rivera-Huerta H, Stevens-Rumann CS, Daniels LD, Gedalof Z, Gray RW, Kane VR, Churchill DJ, Hagmann RK, Spies TA, Cansler CA, Belote RT, Veblen TT, Battaglia MA, Hoffman C, Skinner CN, Safford HD and Salter RB (2019) Climate, Environment, and Disturbance History Govern Resilience of Western North American Forests. Front. Ecol. Evol. 7:239. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00239
    View Abstract for Climate, Environment, and Disturbance History Govern Resilience of Western North American Forests

    Abstract for Paul F. Hessburg, Carol L. Miller, Sean A. Parks, Nicholas A. Povak, Alan H. Taylor, Philip E. Higuera, Susan J. Prichard, Malcolm P. North, Brandon M. Collins, Matthew D. Hurteau, Andrew J. Larson, Craig D. Allen, Scott L. Stephens, Hiram Rivera-Huerta, Camille S. Stevens-Rumann, Lori D. Daniels, Ze’ev Gedalof, Robert W. Gray, Van R. Kane, Derek J. Churchill, R. Keala Hagmann, Thomas A. Spies, C. Alina Cansler, R. Travis Belote, Thomas T. Veblen, Mike A. Battaglia, Chad Hoffman, Carl N. Skinner, Hugh D. Safford and R. Brion Salter (2019). Climate, Environment, and Disturbance History Govern Resilience of Western North American Forests

    Before the advent of intensive forest management and fire suppression, western North American forests exhibited a naturally occurring resistance and resilience to wildfires and other disturbances. Resilience, which encompasses resistance, reflects the amount of disruption an ecosystem can withstand before its structure or organization qualitatively shift to a different basin of attraction. In fire-maintained forests, resilience to disturbance events arose primarily from vegetation pattern-disturbance process interactions at several levels of organization. Using evidence from 15 ecoregions, spanning forests from Canada to Mexico, we review the properties of forests that reinforced qualities of resilience and resistance. We show examples of multi-level landscape resilience, of feedbacks within and among levels, and how conditions have changed under climatic and management influences. We highlight geographic similarities and important differences in the structure and organization of historical landscapes, their forest types, and in the conditions that have changed resilience and resistance to abrupt or large-scale disruptions. We discuss the role of the regional climate in episodically or abruptly reorganizing plant and animal biogeography and forest resilience and resistance to disturbances. We give clear examples of these changes and suggest that managing for resilient forests is a construct that strongly depends on scale and human social values. It involves human communities actively working with the ecosystems they depend on, and the processes that shape them, to adapt landscapes, species, and human communities to climate change while maintaining core ecosystem processes and services. Finally, it compels us to embrace management approaches that incorporate ongoing disturbances and anticipated effects of climatic changes, and to support dynamically shifting patchworks of forest and non-forest. Doing so could make these shifting forest conditions and wildfire regimes less disruptive to individuals and society.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, Sean A.; Dobrowski, Solomon Z.; Shaw, John D.; Miller, Carol. 2019. Living on the edge: Trailing edge forests at risk of fire-facilitated conversion to non-forest. Ecosphere. 10(3): Article e02651.
    View Abstract for Living on the edge: trailing edge forests at risk of fire-facilitated conversion to non-forest

    Abstract for Sean Parks, Soloman Z. Dobrowski, John D. Shaw, and Carol Miller (2019). Living on the edge: trailing edge forests at risk of fire-facilitated conversion to non-forest

    Forests are an incredibly important resource across the globe, yet they are threatened by climate change through stressors such as drought, insect outbreaks, and wildfire. Trailing edge forests—those areas expected to experience range contractions under a changing climate—are of particular concern because of the potential for abrupt conversion to non-forest. However, due to plant-climate disequilibrium, broad-scale forest die-off and range contraction in trailing edge forests are unlikely to occur over short timeframes (<~25–50 yr) without a disturbance catalyst (e.g., wildfire). This underscores that explicit attention to both climate and disturbance is necessary to understand how the distribution of forests will respond to climate change. As such, we first identify the expected location of trailing edge forests in the intermountain western United States by mid-21st century. We then identify those trailing edge forests that have a high probability of stand-replacing fire and consider such sites to have an elevated risk of fire-facilitated transition to non-forest. Results show that 18% of trailing edge forest and 6.6% of all forest are at elevated risk of fire-facilitated conversion to non-forest in the intermountain western United States by mid-21st century. This estimate, however, assumes that fire burns under average weather conditions. For a subset of the study area (the southwestern United States), we were able to incorporate expected fire severity under extreme weather conditions. For this spatial subset, we found that 61% of trailing edge forest and 30% of all forest are at elevated risk of fire-facilitated conversion to non-forest under extreme burning conditions. However, due to compounding error in our process that results in unknowable uncertainty, we urge caution in a strict interpretation of these estimates. Nevertheless, our findings suggest the potential for transformed landscapes in the intermountain western United States that will affect ecosystem services such as watershed integrity, wildlife habitat, wood production, and recreation.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, S. A., Parisien, M. , Miller, C. , Holsinger, L. M. and Baggett, L. S. (2018), Fine-scale spatial climate variation and drought mediate the likelihood of reburning. Ecol Appl, 28: 573-586. doi:10.1002/eap.1671
    View Abstract for Fine-scale spatial climate variation and drought mediate the likelihood of reburning

    Abstract for Parks, S. A., Parisien, M. , Miller, C. , Holsinger, L. M. and Baggett, L. S. (2018). Fine-scale spatial climate variation and drought mediate the likelihood of reburning

    In many forested ecosystems, it is increasingly recognized that the probability of burning is substantially reduced within the footprint of previously burned areas. This self?limiting effect of wildland fire is considered a fundamental emergent property of ecosystems and is partly responsible for structuring landscape heterogeneity (i.e., mosaics of different age classes), thereby reducing the likelihood of uncharacteristically large fires in regions with active fire regimes. However, the strength and longevity of this self?limiting phenomenon is not well understood in most fire?prone ecosystems. In this study, we quantify the self?limiting effect in terms of its strength and longevity for five fire?prone study areas in western North America and investigate how each measure varies along a spatial climatic gradient and according to temporal (i.e., annual) climatic variation. Results indicate that the longevity (i.e., number of years) of the self?limiting effect ranges between 15 yr in the warm and dry study area in the southwestern United States to 33 yr in the cold, northern study areas in located in northwestern Montana and the boreal forest of Canada. We also found that spatial climatic variation has a strong influence on wildland fire\'s self?limiting capacity. Specifically, the self?limiting effect within each study area was stronger and lasted longer in areas with low mean moisture deficit (i.e., wetter and cooler settings) compared to areas with high mean moisture deficit (warmer and drier settings). Last, our findings show that annual climatic variation influences wildland fire\'s self?limiting effect: drought conditions weakened the strength and longevity of the self?limiting effect in all study areas, albeit at varying magnitudes. Overall, our study provides support for the idea that wildland fire contributes to spatial heterogeneity in fuel ages that subsequently mediate future fire sizes and effects. However, our findings show that the strength and longevity of the self?limiting effect varies considerably according to spatial and temporal climatic variation, providing land and fire managers relevant information for effective planning and management of fire and highlighting that fire itself is an important factor contributing to fire?free intervals.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Robinne, F. N., Bladon, K. D., Miller, C., Parisien, M. A., Mathieu, J., & Flannigan, M. D. (2018). A spatial evaluation of global wildfire-water risks to human and natural systems. Science of the Total Environment, 610, 1193-1206.
    View Abstract for A spatial evaluation of global wildfire-water risks to human and natural systems

    Abstract for Robinne, F. N., Bladon, K. D., Miller, C., Parisien, M. A., Mathieu, J., & Flannigan, M. D. (2018). A spatial evaluation of global wildfire-water risks to human and natural systems

    The large mediatic coverage of recent massive wildfires across the world has emphasized the vulnerability of freshwater resources. The extensive hydrogeomorphic effects from a wildfire can impair the ability of watersheds to provide safe drinking water to downstream communities and high-quality water to maintain riverine ecosystem health. Safeguarding water use for human activities and ecosystems is required for sustainable development; however, no global assessment of wildfire impacts on water supply is currently available. Here, we provide the first global evaluation of wildfire risks to water security, in the form of a spatially explicit index. We adapted the Driving forces-Pressure-State-Impact-Response risk analysis framework to select a comprehensive set of indicators of fire activity and water availability, which we then aggregated to a single index of wildfire-water risk using a simple additive weighted model. Our results show that water security in many regions of the world is potentially vulnerable, regardless of socio-economic status. However, in developing countries, a critical component of the risk is the lack of socio-economic capability to respond to disasters. Our work highlights the importance of addressing wildfire-induced risks in the development of water security policies; the geographic differences in the components of the overall risk could help adapting those policies to different regional contexts

  • PDF icon Download publication: Sean A. Parks, Lisa M. Holsinger, Carol Miller and Marc-André Parisien. 2018. Analog-based fire regime and vegetation shifts in mountainous regions of the western US. Ecography, 41: 910-921.
    View Abstract for Analog-based fire regime and vegetation shifts in mountainous regions of the western US

    Abstract for Sean A. Parks, Lisa M. Holsinger, Carol Miller and Marc-André Parisien (2018). Analog-based fire regime and vegetation shifts in mountainous regions of the western US

    Climate change is expected to result in substantial ecological impacts across the globe. These impacts are uncertain but there is strong consensus that they will almost certainly affect fire regimes and vegetation. In this study, we evaluated how climate change may influence fire frequency, fire severity, and broad classes of vegetation in mountainous ecoregions of the contiguous western US for early, middle, and late 21st century (2025, 2055, and 2085, respectively). To do so, we employed the concept of a climate analog, whereby specific locations with the best climatic match between one time period and a different time period are identified. For each location (i.e. 1-km2 pixel), we evaluated potential changes by comparing the reference period fire regime and vegetation to that of the fire regime and vegetation of the nearest pixels representative of its future climate. For the mountainous regions we investigated, we found no universal increase or decrease in fire frequency or severity. Instead, potential changes depend on the bioclimatic domain. Specifically, wet and cold regions (i.e. mesic and cold forest) generally exhibited increased fire frequency but decreased fire severity, whereas drier, moisturelimited regions (i.e. shrubland/grassland) displayed the opposite trend. Results also indicate the potential for substantial changes in the amount and distribution of some vegetation types, highlighting important interactions and feedbacks among climate, fire, and vegetation. Our findings also shed light on a potential threshold or tipping point at intermediate moisture conditions that suggest shifts in vegetation from forest to shrubland/grassland are possible as the climate becomes warmer and drier. However, our study assumes that fire and vegetation are in a state of equilibrium with climate, and, consequently, natural and human-induced disequilibrium dynamics should be considered when interpreting our findings.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Haire, SL; Coop, JD; Miller, C. 2017. Characterizing spatial neighborhoods of refugia following large fires in northern New Mexico, USA. Land 2017, 6, 19.
    View Abstract for Characterizing spatial neighborhoods of refugia following large fires in northern New Mexico, USA

    Abstract for Haire, SL; Coop, JD; Miller, C. (2017). Characterizing spatial neighborhoods of refugia following large fires in northern New Mexico, USA

    The spatial patterns resulting from large fires include refugial habitats that support surviving legacies and promote ecosystem recovery. To better understand the diverse ecological functions of refugia on burn mosaics, we used remotely sensed data to quantify neighborhood patterns of areas relatively unchanged following the 2011 Las Conchas fire. Spatial patterns of refugia measured within 10-ha moving windows varied across a gradient from areas of high density, clustered in space, to sparsely populated neighborhoods that occurred in the background matrix. The scaling of these patterns was related to the underlying structure of topography measured by slope, aspect and potential soil wetness, and spatially varying climate. Using a nonmetric multidimensional scaling analysis of species cover data collected post-Las Conchas, we found that trees and forest associates were present across the refugial gradient, but communities also exhibited a range of species compositions and potential functions. Spatial patterns of refugia quantified for three previous burns (La Mesa 1977, Dome 1996, Cerro Grande 2000) were dynamic between fire events, but most refugia persisted through at least two fires. Efforts to maintain burn heterogeneity and its ecological functions can begin with identifying where refugia are likely to occur, using terrain-based microclimate models, burn severity models and available field data.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, S. A., Holsinger, L. M., Miller, C., & Nelson, C. R. (2017). Wildland fire as a self-regulating mechanism: the role of previous burns and weather in limiting fire progression. Ecological Applications, 25(6), 1478-1492.
    View Abstract for Wildland fire as a self?regulating mechanism: the role of previous burns and weather in limiting fire progression

    Abstract for Parks, S. A., Holsinger, L. M., Miller, C., & Nelson, C. R. (2017). Wildland fire as a self?regulating mechanism: the role of previous burns and weather in limiting fire progression

    Theory suggests that natural fire regimes can result in landscapes that are both self-regulating and resilient to fire. For example, because fires consume fuel, they may create barriers to the spread of future fires, thereby regulating fire size. Top-down controls such as weather, however, can weaken this effect. While empirical examples demonstrating this pattern–process feedback between vegetation and fire exist, they have been geographically limited or did not consider the influence of time between fires and weather. The availability of remotely sensed data identifying fire activity over the last four decades provides an opportunity to explicitly quantify the ability of wildland fire to limit the progression of subsequent fire. Furthermore, advances in fire progression mapping now allow an evaluation of how daily weather as a top-down control modifies this effect. In this study, we evaluated the ability of wildland fire to create barriers that limit the spread of subsequent fire along a gradient representing time between fires in four large study areas in the western United States. Using fire progression maps in conjunction with weather station data, we also evaluated the influence of daily weather. Results indicate that wildland fire does limit subsequent fire spread in all four study areas, but this effect decays over time; wildland fire no longer limits subsequent fire spread 6–18 years after fire, depending on the study area. We also found that the ability of fire to regulate subsequent fire progression was substantially reduced under extreme conditions compared to moderate weather conditions in all four study areas. This study increases understanding of the spatial feedbacks that can lead to self-regulating landscapes as well as the effects of top-down controls, such as weather, on these feedbacks. Our results will be useful to managers who seek to restore natural fire regimes or to exploit recent burns when managing fire.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, S. A., Holsinger, L. M., Miller, C., & Parisien, M. A. (2017). Analog-based fire regime and vegetation shifts in mountainous regions of the western US. Ecography.
    View Abstract for Analog-based fire regime and vegetation shifts in mountainous regions of the western US.

    Abstract for Parks, S. A., Holsinger, L. M., Miller, C., & Parisien, M. A. (2017). Analog-based fire regime and vegetation shifts in mountainous regions of the western US.

    Climate change is expected to result in substantial ecological impacts across the globe. These impacts are uncertain but there is strong consensus that they will almost certainly affect fire regimes and vegetation. In this study, we evaluated how climate change may influence fire frequency, fire severity, and broad classes of vegetation in mountainous ecoregions of the contiguous western US for early, middle, and late 21st century (2025, 2055, and 2085, respectively). To do so, we employed the concept of a climate analog, whereby specific locations with the best climatic match between one time period and a different time period are identified. For each location (i.e. 1-km 2 pixel), we evaluated potential changes by comparing the reference period fire regime and vegetation to that of the fire regime and vegetation of the nearest pixels representative of its future climate. For the mountainous regions we investigated, we found no universal increase or decrease in fire frequency or severity. Instead, potential changes depend on the bioclimatic domain. Specifically, wet and cold regions (i.e. mesic and cold forest) generally exhibited increased fi re frequency but decreased fi re severity, whereas drier, moisture-limited regions (i.e. shrubland/grassland) displayed the opposite trend. Results also indicate the potential for substantial changes in the amount and distribution of some vegetation types, highlighting important interactions and feedbacks among climate, fire, and vegetation. Our findings also shed light on a potential threshold or tipping point at intermediate moisture conditions that suggest shifts in vegetation from forest to shrubland/grassland are possible as the climate becomes warmer and drier. However, our study assumes that fi re and vegetation are in a state of equilibrium with climate, and, consequently, natural and human-induced disequilibrium dynamics should be considered when interpreting our findings.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Barnett K, Parks SA, Miller C, Naughton HT (2016) Beyond Fuel Treatment Effectiveness: Characterizing Interactions between Fire and Treatments in the US. Forests 7(10), 237.
    View Abstract for Beyond Fuel Treatment Effectiveness: Characterizing Interactions between Fire and Treatments in the US

    Abstract for Barnett K, Parks SA, Miller C, Naughton HT (2016). Beyond Fuel Treatment Effectiveness: Characterizing Interactions between Fire and Treatments in the US

    In the United States, fuel reduction treatments are a standard land management tool to restore the structure and composition of forests that have been degraded by past management. Although treatments can have multiple purposes, their principal objective is to create landscape conditions where wildland fire can be safely managed to help achieve long-term land management goals. One critique is that fuel treatment benefits are unlikely to transpire due to the low probability that treated areas will be burned by a subsequent fire within a treatment’s lifespan, but little quantitative information exists to corroborate this argument. We summarized the frequency, extent, and geographic variation of fire and fuel treatment interactions on federal lands within the conterminous United States (CONUS). We also assessed how the encounters between fuel treatments and fires varied with treatment size, treatment age, and number of times treated. Overall, 6.8% of treatment units evaluated were encountered by a subsequent fire during the study period, though this rate varied among ecoregions across the CONUS. Larger treatment units were more likely to be encountered by a fire, and treatment units were most frequently burned within one year of the most recent treatment, the latter of which is likely because of ongoing maintenance of existing treatments. Our results highlight the need to identify and prioritize additional opportunities to reduce fuel loading and fire risk on the millions of hectares of federal lands in the CONUS that are in need of restoration.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Barnett, K; Miller, C; Venn TJ. 2016. Using risk analysis to reveal opportunities for the management of unplanned ignitions in wilderness. Journal of Forestry 114(6):610-618
    View Abstract for Using risk analysis to reveal opportunities for the management of unplanned ignitions in wilderness.

    Abstract for Barnett, K; Miller, C; Venn TJ (2016). Using risk analysis to reveal opportunities for the management of unplanned ignitions in wilderness.

    A goal of fire management in wilderness is to allow fire to play its natural ecological role without intervention. Unfortunately, most unplanned ignitions in wilderness are suppressed, in part because of the risk they might pose to values outside of the wilderness. We capitalize on recent advances in fire risk analysis to demonstrate a risk-based approach for revealing where unplanned ignitions in wilderness pose little risk to nonwilderness values and therefore where fire can be managed for its longer term ecological benefits. Using a large wilderness area as a case study, we conduct an exposure analysis and quantify the potential for unplanned ignitions inside the wilderness area to spread outside the wilderness boundary onto adjacent lands. Results show that, in general, ignitions that occur inside a large core area of the wilderness have very low likelihoods of escaping the wilderness boundary, especially early and late in the fire season. These “windows” may thus represent opportunities for allowing natural fire to occur. We discuss our approach in the broader context of spatial fire risk management and planning across public lands.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol, Aplet, Gregory H. (2016). Progress in Wilderness Fire Science: Embracing Complexity. Journal of Forestry. 114(3), 373-383.
    View Abstract for Progress in Wilderness Fire Science: Embracing Complexity

    Abstract for Carol Miller and Gregory H. Aplet (2016). Progress in Wilderness Fire Science: Embracing Complexity

    Wilderness has played an invaluable role in the development of wildland fire science. Since Agee’s review of the subject 15 years ago, tremendous progress has been made in the development of models and data, in understanding the complexity of wildland fire as a landscape process, and in appreciating the social factors that influence the use of wilderness fire. Regardless of all we have learned, though, the reality is that fire remains an extraordinarily complex process with variable effects that create essential heterogeneity in ecosystems. Whereas some may view this variability as a management impediment, for others it provides a path forward. As research has shown, embracing fire in all its complexity and expanding its use can help reduce fuels, restore resilient landscapes, and contain costs. Wilderness fire science will continue to play an important role in understanding opportunities for using fire, its role in ecosystems, its risks and benefits, and the influence of risk perception on decisionmaking. Management and Policy Implications: The past 50 years of wilderness fire science has shown the benefits that accrue from fires that burn on their own terms and under less-than-extreme conditions. Fuel loads are lower, fire behavior is moderated, fire sizes are limited, forest structural diversity and wildlife habitat are improved, and fuel breaks are created that can help in the management of today’s long-duration fires. Although improvements in modeling and data have increased our ability to support decisionmaking and incident management, inadequate monitoring and poor reporting of management activities hinder wilderness fire research. To effectively justify and support wilderness fire, we will need to adapt existing tools and develop new approaches for evaluating the long-term risks and benefits of wilderness fire. Although current Federal Wildland Fire Policy (Philpot et al. 1995, Douglas et al. 2001) provides the rationale and flexibility to expand wilderness fire use, achieving its full potential will require bureau policies that overcome the numerous institutional barriers that continue to constrain decisionmakers. Incentives are needed to encourage fire use by managers who have received advanced training and employ skilled and well-staffed fire use management teams. Even with adequate policies, uncertainties and complexities associated with climate change and risks accompanying an expanding wildland-urban interface will continue to challenge this expansion.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Holsinger, L., Parks, S. A., & Miller, C. (2016). Weather, fuels, and topography impede wildland fire spread in western US landscapes. Forest Ecology and Management, 380, 59-69.
    View Abstract for Weather, fuels, and topography impede wildland fire spread in western US landscapes

    Abstract for Holsinger L, Parks SA, Miller C. (2016). Weather, fuels, and topography impede wildland fire spread in western US landscapes

    As wildland fire activity continues to surge across the western US, it is increasingly important that we understand and quantify the environmental drivers of fire and how they vary across ecosystems. At daily to annual timescales, weather, fuels, and topography are known to influence characteristics such as area burned and fire severity. An understudied facet, however, concerns how these factors inhibit fire spread and thereby contribute to the formation of fire boundaries. We evaluated how weather, fuels, and topography impeded fire spread in four large study areas in the western US, three in the Northern Rockies and one in the Southwest. Weather and fuels were the most important factors in the Northern Rockies, whereas fuels and topography were dominant in the Southwest. Within the categories of weather, fuels, and topography, we also evaluated which specific variables were most influential in impeding fire spread. We explicitly accounted for the presence and age of previous burns within the fuels category. We found that: (1) temperature was the most influential weather variable in the Northern Rockies; (2) previous burns (particularly those that were 65 years old) were moderately to highly influential in all study areas; and (3) valley bottoms and ridgetops were moderately to highly associated with fire boundaries in all study areas. Our results elucidate the regionally varying roles of weather, fuels, and topography in impeding fire spread, emphasizing each ecosystem’s unique biophysical setting and fire regime.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parisien, M., Miller, C., Parks, S., DeLancey, E., Robinne, F., Flannigan, M. (2016). The spatially varying influence of humans on fire probability in North America. Environmental Research Letters. Vol 11.
    View Abstract for The spatially varying influence of humans on fire probability in North America

    Abstract for Marc-André Parisien , Carol Miller , Sean A Parks, Evan R DeLancey , François-Nicolas Robinne and Mike D Flannigan (2016). The spatially varying influence of humans on fire probability in North America

    Humans affect fire regimes by providing ignition sources in some cases, suppressing wildfires in others, and altering natural vegetation in ways that may either promote or limit fire. In North America, several studies have evaluated the effects of society on fire activity; however, most studies have been regional or subcontinental in scope and used different data and methods, thereby making continent-wide comparisons difficult.We circumvent these challenges by investigating the broad-scale impact of humans on fire activity using parallel statistical models of fire probability from 1984 to 2014 as a function of climate, enduringfeatures(topography and percent nonfuel), lightning, and three indices of human activity (population density, an integrated metric of human activity [Human Footprint Index], and a measure of remoteness[roadless volume]) across equally spaced regions of the United States and Canada. Through a statistical control approach, whereby we accountfor the effect of other explanatory variables, wefound evidence of non-negligible human–wildfire association across the entire continent, even in the most sparsely populated areas. A surprisingly coherent negative relationship between fire activity and humans was observed across the United States and Canada: fire probability generally diminishes with increasing human influence. Intriguing exceptions to this relationship are the continent’s least disturbed areas, where fewer humans equate to less fire. These remote areas, however, also often have lower lightning densities, leading us to believe that they may be ignition limited at the spatiotemporal scale of the study. Our results suggest that there arefew purely natural fire regimes in North America today. Consequently, projections of future fire activity should consider human impacts on fire regimes to ensure sound adaptation and mitigation measures in fire-prone areas.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parisien, M. A., Miller, C., Parks, S. A., DeLancey, E. R., Robinne, F. N., & Flannigan, M. D. (2016). The spatially varying influence of humans on fire probability in North America. Environmental Research Letters, 11(7), 075005.
    View Abstract for The spatially varying influence of humans on fire probability in North America

    Abstract for Parisien, M. A., Miller, C., Parks, S. A., DeLancey, E. R., Robinne, F. N., & Flannigan, M. D. (2016). The spatially varying influence of humans on fire probability in North America

    Humans affect fire regimes by providing ignition sources in some cases, suppressing wildfires in others, and altering natural vegetation in ways that may either promote or limit fire. In North America, several studies have evaluated the effects of society on fire activity; however, most studies have been regional or subcontinental in scope and used different data and methods, thereby making continent-wide comparisons difficult. We circumvent these challenges by investigating the broad-scale impact of humans on fire activity using parallel statistical models of fire probability from 1984 to 2014 as a function of climate, enduring features (topography and percent nonfuel), lightning, and three indices of human activity (population density, an integrated metric of human activity [Human Footprint Index], and a measure of remoteness [roadless volume]) across equally spaced regions of the United States and Canada. Through a statistical control approach, whereby we account for the effect of other explanatory variables, we found evidence of non-negligible human–wildfire association across the entire continent, even in the most sparsely populated areas. A surprisingly coherent negative relationship between fire activity and humans was observed across the United States and Canada: fire probability generally diminishes with increasing human influence. Intriguing exceptions to this relationship are the continent\'s least disturbed areas, where fewer humans equate to less fire. These remote areas, however, also often have lower lightning densities, leading us to believe that they may be ignition limited at the spatiotemporal scale of the study. Our results suggest that there are few purely natural fire regimes in North America today. Consequently, projections of future fire activity should consider human impacts on fire regimes to ensure sound adaptation and mitigation measures in fire-prone areas.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, S. A., Miller, C., Abatzoglou, J. T., Holsinger, L. M., Parisien, M. A., & Dobrowski, S. Z. (2016). How will climate change affect wildland fire severity in the western US?. Environmental Research Letters, 11(3), 035002.
    View Abstract for How will climate change affect wildland fire severity in the western US?

    Abstract for Parks, S. A., Miller, C., Abatzoglou, J. T., Holsinger, L. M., Parisien, M. A., & Dobrowski, S. Z. (2016). How will climate change affect wildland fire severity in the western US?

    Fire regime characteristics in North America are expected to change over the next several decades as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Although some fire regime characteristics (e.g., area burned and fire season length) are relatively well-studied in the context of a changing climate, fire severity has received less attention. In this study, we used observed data from 1984 to 2012 for the western United States (US) to build a statistical model of fire severity as a function of climate. We then applied this model to several (n = 20) climate change projections representing mid-century (2040–2069) conditions under the RCP 8.5 scenario. Model predictions suggest widespread reduction in fire severity for large portions of the western US. However, our model implicitly incorporates climate-induced changes in vegetation type, fuel load, and fire frequency. As such, our predictions are best interpreted as a potential reduction in fire severity, a potential that may not be realized due human-induced disequilibrium between plant communities and climate. Consequently, to realize the reductions in fire severity predicted in this study, land managers in the western US could facilitate the transition of plant communities towards a state of equilibrium with the emerging climate through means such as active restoration treatments (e.g., mechanical thinning and prescribed fire) and passive restoration strategies like managed natural fire (under suitable weather conditions). Resisting changes in vegetation composition and fuel load via activities such as aggressive fire suppression will amplify disequilibrium conditions and will likely result in increased fire severity in future decades because fuel loads will increase as the climate warms and fire danger becomes more extreme. The results of our study provide insights to the pros and cons of resisting or facilitating change in vegetation composition and fuel load in the context of a changing climate.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, S. A., Miller, C., Holsinger, L. M., Baggett, L. S., & Bird, B. J. (2016). Wildland fire limits subsequent fire occurrence. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 25(2), 182-190.
    View Abstract for Wildland fire limits subsequent fire occurrence

    Abstract for Parks, S. A., Miller, C., Holsinger, L. M., Baggett, L. S., & Bird, B. J. (2016). Wildland fire limits subsequent fire occurrence

    Several aspects of wildland fire are moderated by site- and landscape-level vegetation changes caused by previous fire, thereby creating a dynamic where one fire exerts a regulatory control on subsequent fire. For example, wildland fire has been shown to regulate the size and severity of subsequent fire. However, wildland fire has the potential to influence other properties of subsequent fire. One of those properties – the extent to which a previous wildland fire inhibits new fires from igniting and spreading within its perimeter – is the focus of our study. In four large wilderness study areas in the western United States (US), we evaluated whether or not wildland fire regulated the ignition and spread (hereafter occurrence) of subsequent fire. Results clearly indicate that wildland fire indeed regulates subsequent occurrence of fires $ 20 ha in all study areas. We also evaluated the longevity of the regulating effect and found that wildland fire limits subsequent fire occurrence for nine years in the warm/dry study area in the south-western US and over 20 years in the cooler/wetter study areas in the northern Rocky Mountains. Our findings expand upon our understanding of the regulating capacity of wildland fire and the importance of wildland fire in creating and maintaining resilience to future fire events.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, S. A., Miller, C., Parisien, M. A., Holsinger, L. M., Dobrowski, S. Z., & Abatzoglou, J. (2015). Wildland fire deficit and surplus in the western United States, 1984–2012. Ecosphere, 6(12), 1-13.
    View Abstract for Wildland fire deficit and surplus in the western United States

    Abstract for Parks, S. A., Miller, C., Parisien, M. A., Holsinger, L. M., Dobrowski, S. Z., & Abatzoglou, J. (2016). Wildland fire deficit and surplus in the western United States

    Wildland fire is an important disturbance agent in the western US and globally. However, the natural role of fire has been disrupted in many regions due to the influence of human activities, which have the potential to either exclude or promote fire, resulting in a ‘‘fire deficit’’ or ‘‘fire surplus’’, respectively. In this study, we developed a model of expected area burned for the western US as a function of climate from 1984 to 2012. We then quantified departures from expected area burned to identify geographic regions with fire deficit or surplus. We developed our model of area burned as a function of several climatic variables from reference areas with low human influence; the relationship between climate and fire is strong in these areas. We then quantified the degree of fire deficit or surplus for all areas of the western US as the difference between expected (as predicted with the model) and observed area burned from 1984 to 2012. Results indicate that many forested areas in the western US experienced a fire deficit from 1984 to 2012, likely due to fire exclusion by human activities. We also found that large expanses of non-forested regions experienced a fire surplus, presumably due to introduced annual grasses and the prevalence of anthropogenic ignitions. The heterogeneity in patterns of fire deficit and surplus among ecoregions emphasizes fundamentally different ecosystem sensitivities to human influences and suggests that largescale adaptation and mitigation strategies will be necessary in order to restore and maintain resilient, healthy, and naturally functioning ecosystems.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Robinne, F.-N.; Miller, C.; Parisien, M.-A.; Emelko, M.B.; Bladon, K.D.; Silins, U.; Flannigan, M.
    View Abstract for A Global Index for Mapping the Exposure of Water Resources to Wildfire

    Abstract for Robinne, F.-N.; Miller, C.; Parisien, M.-A.; Emelko, M.B.; Bladon, K.D.; Silins, U.; Flannigan, M (2016). A Global Index for Mapping the Exposure of Water Resources to Wildfire

    A Global Index for Mapping the Exposure of Water Resources to Wildfire. Forests 2016, 7, 22.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Fox, Susan A., Hahn, Beth A. (2016). Science Informs Stewardship: Committing to a National Wilderness Science Agenda. Journal of Forestry, 114(3), 305-310.
    View Abstract for Science Informs Stewardship: Committing to a National Wilderness Science Agenda

    Abstract for Susan A. Fox and Beth A. Hahn (2016). Science Informs Stewardship: Committing to a National Wilderness Science Agenda

    The National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) is a vital component of the national and international infrastructure for science, education, and information. The NWPS serves as an impor- tant resource for advancing research, from discovering new dinosaurs (Arbour et al. 2014, Landon 2015) to understanding human history on the American landscape (Rasic 2003). The NWPS provides in- valuable records of environmental change and coverage of important types of ecosystems and natural resource systems (Aycrigg et al. 2015). Research is also fundamentally important to wilderness stew- ardship and the statutory obligation to preserve wilderness character. Wilderness science has guided the management of natural resource systems, such as watersheds, forests, and rangelands. Findings with broad impacts on environmental policy and natural resource man- agement have emerged from wilderness studies. For instance, out- door recreation research helped to initiate wilderness science begin- ning in the 1950s, in response to the increasing recreation impacts on public lands (Cole 2014, 2015). Wilderness recreation studies have investigated many aspects of visitor use and resource impacts, which have directly informed management decisions such as the acceptable limit of impacts, recreation carrying capacity, and actions to prevent or minimize resource degradation (for reviews, see Marion 2015, Marion et al. 2015) (Figure 1). A second prominent example comes from wildland fire research, which has developed models and data to understand the complexity of fire as a biophysical landscape process and also investigated social factors that influence wilderness fire management. These biophysical and social science studies of wildland fire have profoundly shaped stewardship decisions regard- ing wildfire management both inside and outside of wilderness boundaries (Miller and Aplet 2015) (Figure 2). These examples demonstrate the contributions of previous wilderness science to wil- derness stewardship from the field unit to agency scales, but more research—and a coordinated wilderness science strategy—is needed to support the increasingly complex and contentious wilderness management issues presented in this article. In this article, we review the evolution of wilderness research, identify the challenges of integrating wilderness science and steward- ship, consider catalysts for change, and argue for the need to develop a cohesive wilderness science strategy to address NWPS management needs. We highlight the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute (ALWRI) in this article because it is the only entityfocused on science to inform wilderness stewardship, but we recognize that many scientists working both inside and outside of the agencies contribute important findings that improve wilderness stewardship practices (e.g., the Na- tional Park Service [NPS] Night Skies and Natural Sounds Division, the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service [USDA FS] National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation, The Wilderness Society, and university researchers).

  • PDF icon Download publication: Haire, Sandra L.; Miller, Carol; McGarigal, Kevin. 2015. Influence of landscape gradients in wilderness management and spatial climate on fire severity in the Northern Rockies USA, 1984 to 2010. In: Keane, Robert E.; Jolly, Matt; Parsons, Russell; Riley, Karin. Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 104-110.
    View Abstract for Influence of landscape gradients in wilderness management and spatial climate on fire severity in the Northern Rockies USA, 1984 to 2010

    Abstract for Haire, Sandra L.; Miller, Carol; McGarigal, Kevin; (2015). Influence of landscape gradients in wilderness management and spatial climate on fire severity in the Northern Rockies USA, 1984 to 2010

    Management activities, applied over broad scales, can potentially affect attributes of fire regimes including fire severity. Wilderness landscapes provide a natural laboratory for exploring effects of management because in some federally designated wilderness areas the burning of naturally ignited fires is promoted. In order to better understand the contribution of fire management activities to fire effects, we examined patterns of severity across a management gradient defined by wilderness-non-wilderness boundaries in a northern Rocky Mountain study region. We identified a significant positive effect of the management gradient on severity for the time period 1984 to 2010, but the magnitude and direction of effects varied from year to year. However, the influence of management on severity was subsumed by the influence of spatial climate. Our findings represent an important step in constructing predictive models of severity with changes in both climate and fire management practices.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Hessburg, Paul F.; Churchill, Derek J.; Larson, Andrew J.; Haugo, Ryan D.; Miller, Carol; Spies, Thomas A.; North, Malcolm P.; Povak, Nicholas A.; Belote, R. Travis; Singleton, Peter H.; Gaines, William L.; Keane, Robert E.; Aplet, Gregory H.; Stephens, Scott L.; Morgan, Penelope; Bisson, Peter A.; Rieman, Bruce E.; Salter, R. Brion; Reeves, Gordon H. 2015. Restoring fire-prone Inland Pacific landscapes: seven core principles. Landscape Ecology. 30(10): 1805-1835.
    View Abstract for Restoring fire-prone Inland Pacific landscapes: seven core principles

    Abstract for Hessburg, Paul F.; Churchill, Derek J.; Larson, Andrew J.; Haugo, Ryan D.; Miller, Carol; Spies, Thomas A.; North, Malcolm P.; Povak, Nicholas A.; Belote, R. Travis; Singleton, Peter H.; Gaines, William L.; Keane, Robert E.; Aplet, Gregory H.; Stephens, S (2015). Restoring fire-prone Inland Pacific landscapes: seven core principles

    More than a century of forest and fire management of Inland Pacific landscapes has transformed their successional and disturbance dynamics. Regional connectivity of many terrestrial and aquatic habitats is fragmented, flows of some ecological and physical processes have been altered in space and time, and the frequency, size and intensity of many disturbances that configure these habitats have been altered. Current efforts to address these impacts yield a small footprint in comparison to wildfires and insect outbreaks. Moreover, many current projects emphasize thinning and fuels reduction within individual forest stands, while overlooking large-scale habitat connectivity and disturbance flow issues. Methods We provide a framework for landscape restoration, offering seven principles. We discuss their implication for management, and illustrate their application with examples. Results Historical forests were spatially heterogeneous at multiple scales. Heterogeneity was the result of variability and interactions among native ecological patterns and processes, including successional and disturbance processes regulated by climatic and topographic drivers. Native flora and fauna were adapted to these conditions, which conferred a measure of resilience to variability in climate and recurrent contagious disturbances. Conclusions To restore key characteristics of this resilience to current landscapes, planning and management are needed at ecoregion, local landscape, successional patch, and tree neighborhood scales. Restoration that works effectively across ownerships and allocations will require active thinking about landscapes as socio-ecological systems that provide services to people within the finite capacities of ecosystems. We focus attention on landscape-level prescriptions as foundational to restoration planning and execution.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Keane, R. E., R. A. Loehman, J. A. Clark, E. E. Smithwick, and C. Miller. 2015. Exploring interactions among multiple disturbance agents in forest landscapes: simulating effects of fire, beetles, and disease under climate change. in Ajith H. Perera, A. H., T. K. Remmel, and L. J. Buse, (eds.). Modeling and Mapping Forest Landscape Patterns. Springer. 201-231.
    View Abstract for Exploring interactions among multiple disturbance agents in forest landscapes: simulating effects of fire, beetles, and disease under climate change

    Abstract for Keane, R. E., R. A. Loehman, J. A. Clark, E. E. Smithwick, and C. Miller (2015). Exploring interactions among multiple disturbance agents in forest landscapes: simulating effects of fire, beetles, and disease under climate change

    Interactions among disturbance, climate, and vegetation determine landscape patterns and influence ecosystem processes. Dynamic and reciprocal interactions among disturbances can also temporarily or persistently alter landscape trajectories, especially in new climate regimes. Ecological models are used routinely to explore ecological dynamics across heterogeneous landscapes, but few models are able to simulate effects of multiple interacting disturbance events. Projecting how multiple disturbance interactions might result in novel and emergent landscape behaviors is critical for addressing climate change impacts and designing land management strategies that are appropriate for future climates. In this chapter, we demonstrate the importance of interacting disturbances using an example from fire-dominated, pine forested ecosystems of the northern Rocky Mountains, USA, where mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), and wildland fire interact with the vegetation and climate to create unique landscape behaviors. First, we synthesized the literature on the effects of these three disturbances and their interactions in the northern Rockies forests. Then we used the mechanistic landscape process model FireBGCv2 to simulate effects of multiple disturbance interactions on vegetation composition and basal area for two landscapes under current and projected future climates. Our findings are that (1) multiple disturbance interactions influence landscape patterns more than single or no disturbances; (2) disturbance responses are typically indirect feedbacks mediated through changes in vegetation and fuels; (3) disturbance interactions may overwhelm direct effects of climate changes or effects of a single disturbance on ecosystems, and (4) exploring disturbance interactions demands a mechanistic simulation approach to fully represent those important ecological processes that are directly and indirectly affected by disturbances and their interactions. Disturbances and their interactions must be addressed to properly assess future landscape changes under projected climate regimes.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, S. A., C. Miller, M.-A. Parisien, L. M. Holsinger, S. Z. Dobrowski, and J. Abatzoglou. 2015. Wildland fire deficit and surplus in the western United States, 1984–2012. Ecosphere 6(12):275. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES15-00294.1
    View Abstract for Wildland fire deficit and surplus in the western United States, 1984–2012

    Abstract for Parks, S. A., C. Miller, M.-A. Parisien, L. M. Holsinger, S. Z. Dobrowski, J. Abatzoglou (2015). Wildland fire deficit and surplus in the western United States, 1984–2012

    Wildland fire is an important disturbance agent in the western US and globally. However, the natural role of fire has been disrupted in many regions due to the influence of human activities, which have the potential to either exclude or promote fire, resulting in a ‘‘fire deficit’’ or ‘‘fire surplus’’, respectively. In this study, we developed a model of expected area burned for the western US as a function of climate from 1984 to 2012. We then quantified departures from expected area burned to identify geographic regions with fire deficit or surplus. We developed our model of area burned as a function of several climatic variables from reference areas with low human influence; the relationship between climate and fire is strong in these areas. We then quantified the degree of fire deficit or surplus for all areas of the western US as the difference between expected (as predicted with the model) and observed area burned from 1984 to 2012. Results indicate that many forested areas in the western US experienced a fire deficit from 1984 to 2012, likely due to fire exclusion by human activities. We also found that large expanses of non-forested regions experienced a fire surplus, presumably due to introduced annual grasses and the prevalence of anthropogenic ignitions. The heterogeneity in patterns of fire deficit and surplus among ecoregions emphasizes fundamentally different ecosystem sensitivities to human influences and suggests that largescale adaptation and mitigation strategies will be necessary in order to restore and maintain resilient, healthy, and naturally functioning ecosystems.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, Sean A.; Holsinger, Lisa M.; Miller, Carol; Nelson, Cara R. 2015. Wildland fire as a self-regulating mechanism: the role of previous burns and weather in limiting fire progression. Ecological Applications. 25(6): 1478-1492.
    View Abstract for Wildland fire as a self-regulating mechanism: the role of previous burns and weather in limiting fire progression

    Abstract for Parks, Sean A.; Holsinger, Lisa M.; Miller, Carol; Nelson, Cara R.; (2015). Wildland fire as a self-regulating mechanism: the role of previous burns and weather in limiting fire progression

    Theory suggests that natural fire regimes can result in landscapes that are both self-regulating and resilient to fire. For example, because fires consume fuel, they may create barriers to the spread of future fires, thereby regulating fire size. Top-down controls such as weather, however, can weaken this effect. While empirical examples demonstrating this pattern-process feedback between vegetation and fire exist, they have been geographically limited or did not consider the influence of time between fires and weather. The availability of remotely sensed data identifying fire activity over the last four decades provides an opportunity to explicitly quantify the ability of wildland fire to limit the progression of subsequent fire. Furthermore, advances in fire progression mapping now allow an evaluation of how daily weather as a top-down control modifies this effect. In this study, we evaluated the ability of wildland fire to create barriers that limit the spread of subsequent fire along a gradient representing time between fires in four large study areas in the western United States. Using fire progression maps in conjunction with weather station data, we also evaluated the influence of daily weather. Results indicate that wildland fire does limit subsequent fire spread in all four study areas, but this effect decays over time; wildland fire no longer limits subsequent fire spread 6ñ18 years after fire, depending on the study area. We also found that the ability of fire to regulate subsequent fire progression was substantially reduced under extreme conditions compared to moderate weather conditions in all four study areas. This study increases understanding of the spatial feedbacks that can lead to self-regulating landscapes as well as the effects of top-down controls, such as weather, on these feedbacks. Our results will be useful to managers who seek to restore natural fire regimes or to exploit recent burns when managing fire.

  • PDF icon Download publication: David Thomas, Rebekah Fox & Carol Miller (2015) Voices from the Field: Wildland Fire Managers and High-Reliability Organizing Mindfulness, Society & Natural Resources, 28:8, 825-838, DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2015.1014590
    View Abstract for Voices from the Field: Wildland Fire Managers and High-Reliability Organizing Mindfulness

    Abstract for Thomas D, Fox R, Miller C (2015). Voices from the Field: Wildland Fire Managers and High-Reliability Organizing Mindfulness

    Wildland fire management agencies manage wildland fires for resource benefit while protecting firefighter and public safety. Firefighting fatalities and property damaged by wildfires prompt reviews aimed at preventing similar accidents. The principles of high-reliability organizing (HRO) have been used to analyze such unexpected, high-consequence events. However, fire managers who agree to the value of an HRO framework often have difficulty applying and teaching it. Using data gathered from experienced fire managers, we identify salient examples that illustrate each HRO mindfulness behavior. We then focus on specific language choices encountered in these examples and suggest how these choices might add to the applicability for both HRO theorizing and practice.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Whitman, E., Batllori, E., Parisien, M.-A., Miller, C., Coop, J. D., Krawchuk, M. A., Chong, G. W. and Haire, S. L. (2015), The climate space of fire regimes in north-western North America. J. Biogeogr., 42: 1736–1749. doi:10.1111/jbi.12533
    View Abstract for The climate space of fire regimes in north-western North America

    Abstract for Whitman E, Batllori E, Parisien M-A, Miller C, Coop JD, Krawchuk MA, Chong GW, Haire SL (2015). The climate space of fire regimes in north-western North America

    Wildfire activity is highest where thermal and moisture gradients converge to promote fuel production, flammability and ignitions. Having linked fire-regime components to large-scale climate gradients, we show that fire regimes – like the climate that controls them – are a part of a continuum, expanding on models of varying constraints on fire activity. The observed relationships between fire-regime components, together with the distinct role of climatic and human influences, generate variation in biotic communities. Thus, future changes to climate may lead to ecological changes through altered fire regimes.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Fulé, P. Z., Swetnam, T. W., Brown, P. M., Falk, D. A., Peterson, D. L., Allen, C. D., Aplet, G. H., Battaglia, M. A., Binkley, D., Farris, C., Keane, R. E., Margolis, E. Q., Grissino-Mayer, H., Miller, C., Sieg, C. H., Skinner, C., Stephens, S. L. and Taylor, A. (2014), Unsupported inferences of high-severity fire in historical dry forests of the western United States: response to Williams and Baker. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 23: 825–830. doi: 10.1111/geb.12136
    View Abstract for Unsupported inferences of high-severity fire in historical dry forests of the western United States: response to Williams and Baker

    Abstract for Fulé, PZ, TW. Swetnam, PM. Brown, DA. Falk, DL. Peterson, CD. Allen, GH. Aplet, MA. Battaglia, D Binkley, C Farris, RE. Keane, EQ. Margolis, H Grissino-Mayer, C Miller, CH Sieg, C Skinner, SL Stephens, A Taylor (2014). Unsupported inferences of high-severity fire in historical dry forests of the western United States: response to Williams and Baker

    Reconstructions of dry western US forests in the late 19th century in Arizona, Colorado and Oregon based on General Land Office records were used by Williams & Baker (2012; Global Ecology and Biogeography, 21, 1042–1052; hereafter W&B) to infer past fire regimes with substantial moderate and high-severity burning. The authors concluded that present-day large, high-severity fires are not distinguishable from historical patterns. We present evidence of important errors in their study. First, the use of tree size distributions to reconstruct past fire severity and extent is not supported by empirical age–size relationships nor by studies that directly quantified disturbance history in these forests. Second, the fire severity classification of W&B is qualitatively different from most modern classification schemes, and is based on different types of data, leading to an inappropriate comparison. Third, we note that while W&B asserted ‘surprising’ heterogeneity in their reconstructions of stand density and species composition, their data are not substantially different from many previous studies which reached very different conclusions about subsequent forest and fire behaviour changes. Contrary to the conclusions of W&B, the preponderance of scientific evidence indicates that conservation of dry forest ecosystems in the western United States and their ecological, social and economic value is not consistent with a present-day disturbance regime of large, high-severity fires, especially under changing climate.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Matonis, M.; Hubbard, R.; Gebert, K.; Hahn, B.; Miller, S.; Regan, C. 2014. Future Forests Webinar Series, Webinar Proceedings and Summary: Ongoing Research and Management Responses to the Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak. Proceedings RMRS-P-70. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 80 p.
    View Abstract for Future Forests Webinar Series, Webinar Proceedings and Summary: Ongoing Research and Management Responses to the Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak

    Abstract for Matonis, M.; Hubbard, R.; Gebert, K.; Hahn, B.; Miller, S.; Regan, C.; (2014). Future Forests Webinar Series, Webinar Proceedings and Summary: Ongoing Research and Management Responses to the Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak

    The Future Forest Webinar Series facilitated dialogue between scientists and managers about the challenges and opportunities created by the mountain pine beetle (MPB) epidemic. The series consisted of six webinar facilitated by the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, the Northern and Rocky Mountain Regions, and the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute. The series ran from October 2011 to December 2012 and covered a variety of topics related to the MPB epidemic: potential fire risk and behavior, current and future vegetation conditions, wildlife habitats and populations, social and economic considerations, ecosystem- and watershed-level changes, and management responses. The purpose of these proceedings is to relate information shared during the webinar series (rather than to summarize all available research on implications of the MPB epidemic). These proceedings represent a snapshot of relevant scientific and management concerns related to this epidemic. In the coming decades, additional research and lessons learned by managers will continue to deepen and broaden our understanding of the future of post-epidemic forests.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller. 2014. 50 Years of Progress in Wilderness Fire Science (abstract). 50th National Wilderness Conference Proceedings. 243-244.
    View Abstract for 50 Years of Progress in Wilderness Fire Science (abstract).

    Abstract for Miller, Carol. (2014). 50 Years of Progress in Wilderness Fire Science (abstract).

    Much of what we understand about fire ecology comes from observations of natural fires in several Wilderness areas that have been allowed to burn under a wide range of physical and biological conditions since the 1970s...

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol. 2014. The contribution of natural fire management to wilderness fire science. International Journal of Wilderness. 20(2): 20-25.
    View Abstract for The contribution of natural fire management to wilderness fire science

    Abstract for Miller, Carol; (2014). The contribution of natural fire management to wilderness fire science

    When the federal agencies established policies in the late 1960s and early 1970s to allow the use of natural fires in wilderness, they launched a natural fire management experiment in a handful of wilderness areas. As a result, wildland fire has played more of its natural role in wilderness than anywhere else. Much of what we understand about fire ecology comes from observations of natural fires in several wilderness areas that have been allowed to burn under a wide range of physical and biological conditions since the 1970s. Wilderness fires have provided valuable datasets for improving fire history methods and understanding of the drivers of fire. Inside some wilderness areas, enough data have accumulated from multiple repeated fires at natural fire intervals to see how forests respond to fire. As a result of the wilderness fire management experiment we can better anticipate the consequences of reintroducing fire and whether restoration with natural fire might be feasible. The experience of allowing fires to burn in wilderness has also contributed to social science knowledge. Studies have examined how public support for the use of fire in wilderness can change over time. Studies of the institutional factors that influence the use of fire in wilderness have pointed to difficulties with implementing wilderness fire policy, as well as the importance of belief and commitment of an individual line officer in overcoming obstacles to carry out a wilderness fire program. Future trends in climate and land use will exacerbate current challenges for wilderness fire management programs, and making the decision to allow fire to burn in wilderness will increasingly demand scientific information and will likely require an even more firm belief in the value of natural fire.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Morgan, Penelope; Heyerdahl, Emily K.; Miller, Carol; Wilson, Aaron M.; Gibson, Carly E. 2014. Northern Rockies pyrogeography: An example of fire atlas utility. Fire Ecology. 10(1): 14-30.
    View Abstract for Northern Rockies pyrogeography: An example of fire atlas utility

    Abstract for Morgan, Penelope; Heyerdahl, Emily K.; Miller, Carol; Wilson, Aaron M.; Gibson, Carly E.; (2014). Northern Rockies pyrogeography: An example of fire atlas utility

    We demonstrated the utility of digital fire atlases by analyzing forest fire extent across cold, dry, and mesic forests, within and outside federally designated wilderness areas during three different fire management periods: 1900 to 1934, 1935 to 1973, and 1974 to 2008. We updated an existing atlas with a 12 070 086 ha recording area in Idaho and Montana, USA, west of the Continental Divide, 81 % of which is forested. This updated atlas was derived from records maintained locally by 12 national forests and Glacier National Park. Within the cold, dry, and mesic forests that encompass 45 %, 44 %, and 11 % of the fire atlas recording area, respectively, we analyzed 3228 fire polygons (those >20 ha in extent and >75 % forested). We discovered that both fire extent and the number of fire polygons were greater in the north during the early period and greater in the south during the late period, but in all cases burned in proportion to land area. Over the 9 731 691 ha forested fire-atlas recording area, 36 % of 10 000 randomly located points burned at least once, 7 % burned twice, and fewer than 1 % burned three or more times. Of these same points, disproportionately more burned inside wilderness than outside. These points burned in proportion to land area by forest type and generally by slope, aspect, and elevation. Analysis revealed that despite extensive fires early and late in the twentieth century, area burned was likely still low relative to prior centuries, especially at low elevations and outside large wilderness areas. The fire atlas includes few fires <40 ha, and its perimeter accuracy is uncertain and likely historically inconsistent; even so, the perimeters are georeferenced and, because they include the entire twentieth century, can serve to bridge past and future fire regimes. Fire atlases are necessarily imperfect, but they remain useful for exploring the pyrogeography of modern fire regimes, including how the spatial distribution of fire varied through time with respect to landscape controls, fire management, and climate.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, S. A., M.-A. Parisien, C. Miller, and S. Z. Dobrowski. 2014. Fire Activity and Severity in the Western US Vary along Proxy Gradients Representing Fuel Amount and Fuel Moisture. Plos One 9:e99699.
    View Abstract for Fire Activity and Severity in the Western US Vary along Proxy Gradients Representing Fuel Amount and Fuel Moisture

    Abstract for Parks, S. A., M.-A. Parisien, C. Miller, and S. Z. Dobrowski (2014). Fire Activity and Severity in the Western US Vary along Proxy Gradients Representing Fuel Amount and Fuel Moisture

    Numerous theoretical and empirical studies have shown that wildfire activity (e.g., area burned) at regional to global scales may be limited at the extremes of environmental gradients such as productivity or moisture. Fire activity, however,represents only one component of the fire regime, and no studies to date have characterized fire severity along such gradients. Given the importance of fire severity in dictating ecological response to fire, this is a considerable knowledge gap.For the western US, we quantify relationships between climate and the fire regime by empirically describing both fire activity and severity along two climatic water balance gradients, actual evapotranspiration (AET) and water deficit (WD), that can be considered proxies for fuel amount and fuel moisture, respectively. We also concurrently summarize fire activity and severity among ecoregions, providing an empirically based description of the geographic distribution of fire regimes. Our results show that fire activity in the western US increases with fuel amount (represented by AET) but has a unimodal (i.e., humped) relationship with fuel moisture (represented by WD); fire severity increases with fuel amount and fuel moisture. The explicit links between fire regime components and physical environmental gradients suggest that multivariable statistical models can be generated to produce an empirically based fire regime map for the western US. Such models will potentially enable researchers to anticipate climate-mediated changes in fire recurrence and its impacts based on gridded spatial data representing future climate scenarios.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, SA; Dillon, GK; Miller C. 2014. A New Metric for Quantifying Burn Severity: The Relativized Burn Ratio. Remote Sensing. 6: 1827-1844.
    View Abstract for A New Metric for Quantifying Burn Serverity: The Relativized Burn Ratio.

    Abstract for Parks, SA; Dillon, GK; and Miller, C. (2014). A New Metric for Quantifying Burn Serverity: The Relativized Burn Ratio.

    Satellite-inferred burn severity data have become increasingly popular over the last decade for management and research purposes. These data typically quantify spectral change between pre-and post-fire satellite images (usually Landsat). There is an active debate regarding which of the two main equations, the delta normalized burn ratio (dNBR) and its relativized form (RdNBR), is most suitable for quantifying burn severity; each has its critics. In this study, we propose and evaluate a new Landsat-based burn severity metric, the relativized burn ratio (RBR), that provides an alternative to dNBR and RdNBR. For 18 fires in the western US, we compared the performance of RBR to both dNBR and RdNBR by evaluating the agreement of these metrics with field-based burn severity measurements. Specifically, we evaluated (1) the correspondence between each metric and a continuous measure of burn severity (the composite burn index) and (2) the overall accuracy of each metric when classifying into discrete burn severity classes (i.e., unchanged, low, moderate, and high). Results indicate that RBR corresponds better to field-based measurements (average R2 among 18 fires = 0.786) than both dNBR (R2 = 0.761) and RdNBR (R2 = 0.766). Furthermore, the overall classification accuracy achieved with RBR (average among 18 fires = 70.5%) was higher than both dNBR (68.4%) and RdNBR (69.2%). Consequently, we recommend RBR as a robust alternative to both dNBR and RdNBR for measuring and classifying burn severity.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, Sean A.; Dillon, Gregory K.; Miller, Carol. 2014. A new metric for quantifying burn severity: The Relativized Burn Ratio. Remote Sensing. 6: 1827-1844.
    View Abstract for A new metric for quantifying burn severity: The Relativized Burn Ratio

    Abstract for Parks, Sean A.; Dillon, Gregory K.; Miller, Carol (2014). A new metric for quantifying burn severity: The Relativized Burn Ratio

    Satellite-inferred burn severity data have become increasingly popular over the last decade for management and research purposes. These data typically quantify spectral change between pre-and post-fire satellite images (usually Landsat). There is an active debate regarding which of the two main equations, the delta normalized burn ratio (dNBR) and its relativized form (RdNBR), is most suitable for quantifying burn severity; each has its critics. In this study, we propose and evaluate a new Landsat-based burn severity metric, the relativized burn ratio (RBR), that provides an alternative to dNBR and RdNBR. For 18 fires in the western US, we compared the performance of RBR to both dNBR and RdNBR by evaluating the agreement of these metrics with field-based burn severity measurements. Specifically, we evaluated (1) the correspondence between each metric and a continuous measure of burn severity (the composite burn index) and (2) the overall accuracy of each metric when classifying into discrete burn severity classes (i.e., unchanged, low, moderate, and high). Results indicate that RBR corresponds better to field-based measurements (average R2 among 18 fires = 0.786) than both dNBR (R2 = 0.761) and RdNBR (R2 = 0.766). Furthermore, the overall classification accuracy achieved with RBR (average among 18 fires = 70.5%) was higher than both dNBR (68.4%) and RdNBR (69.2%). Consequently, we recommend RBR as a robust alternative to both dNBR and RdNBR for measuring and classifying burn severity.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, Sean A.; Miller, Carol; Nelson, Cara R.; Holden, Zachary A. 2014. Previous fires moderate burn severity of subsequent wildland fires in two large western US wilderness areas. Ecosystems. 17: 29-42.
    View Abstract for Previous fires moderate burn severity of subsequent wildland fires in two large western US wilderness areas

    Abstract for Parks, Sean A.; Miller, Carol; Nelson, Cara R.; Holden, Zachary A. (2014). Previous fires moderate burn severity of subsequent wildland fires in two large western US wilderness areas

    Wildland fire is an important natural process in many ecosystems. However, fire exclusion has reduced frequency of fire and area burned in many dry forest types, which may affect vegetation structure and composition, and potential fire behavior. In forests of the western U.S., these effects pose a challenge for fire and land managers who seek to restore the ecological process of fire to ecosystems. Recent research suggests that landscapes with unaltered fire regimes are more ’’self-regulating’’ than those that have experienced fire-regime shifts; in self-regulating systems, fire size and severity are moderated by the effect of previous fire. To determine if burn severity is moderated in areas that recently burned, we analyzed 117 wildland fires in 2 wilderness areas in the western U.S. that have experienced substantial recent fire activity. Burn severity was measured using a Landsat satellite-based metric at a 30-m resolution. We evaluated (1) whether pixels that burned at least twice since 1984 experienced lower burn severity than pixels that burned once, (2) the relationship between burn severity and fire history, pre-fire vegetation, and topography, and (3) how the moderating effect of a previous fire decays with time. Results show burn severity is significantly lower in areas that have recently burned compared to areas that have not. This effect is still evident at around 22 years between wildland fire events. Results further indicate that burn severity generally increases with time since and severity of previous wildfire. These findings may assist land managers to anticipate the consequences of allowing fires to burn and provide rationale for using wildfire as a ’’fuel treatment’’.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, Sean A.; Parisien, Marc-Andre; Miller, Carol; Dobrowski, Solomon Z. 2014. Fire activity and severity in the western US vary along proxy gradients representing fuel amount and fuel moisture. PLoS ONE 9(6): e99699.
    View Abstract for Fire activity and severity in the western US vary along proxy gradients representing fuel amount and fuel moisture

    Abstract for Parks, Sean A.; Parisien, Marc-Andre; Miller, Carol; Dobrowski, Solomon Z.; (2014). Fire activity and severity in the western US vary along proxy gradients representing fuel amount and fuel moisture

    Numerous theoretical and empirical studies have shown that wildfire activity (e.g., area burned) at regional to global scales may be limited at the extremes of environmental gradients such as productivity or moisture. Fire activity, however, represents only one component of the fire regime, and no studies to date have characterized fire severity along such gradients. Given the importance of fire severity in dictating ecological response to fire, this is a considerable knowledge gap. For the western US, we quantify relationships between climate and the fire regime by empirically describing both fire activity and severity along two climatic water balance gradients, actual evapotranspiration (AET) and water deficit (WD), that can be considered proxies for fuel amount and fuel moisture, respectively. We also concurrently summarize fire activity and severity among ecoregions, providing an empirically based description of the geographic distribution of fire regimes. Our results show that fire activity in the western US increases with fuel amount (represented by AET) but has a unimodal (i.e., humped) relationship with fuel moisture (represented by WD); fire severity increases with fuel amount and fuel moisture. The explicit links between fire regime components and physical environmental gradients suggest that multivariable statistical models can be generated to produce an empirically based fire regime map for the western US. Such models will potentially enable researchers to anticipate climate-mediated changes in fire recurrence and its impacts based on gridded spatial data representing future climate scenarios.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Haire, Sandra L.; McGarigal, Kevin; Miller, Carol. 2013. Wilderness shapes contemporary fire size distributions across landscapes of the western United States. Ecosphere 4(1):15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES12-00257.1
    View Abstract for Wilderness shapes contemporary fire size distributions across landscapes of the western United States

    Abstract for Haire, Sandra L.; McGarigal, Kevin; Miller, Carol (2013). Wilderness shapes contemporary fire size distributions across landscapes of the western United States

    In many U.S.–federally–designated wilderness areas, wildfires are likely to burn of their own accord due to favorable management policies and remote location. Previous research suggested that limitations on fire size can result from the evolution of natural fire regimes, specifically in places where fuels were recently reduced by previous burning. To explore the broader–scale importance of fire management on wilderness landscapes, we selected three study regions representing diverse ecosystems in the western U.S. and modeled the change in fire size distributions across a gradient defined by wilderness/non–wilderness boundaries. For randomly selected locations across the gradient, we derived a scaling parameter (?) using fire size–frequency data for public lands (1984-2007); the parameter reflected the magnitude of change in the right tail of the fire size distribution where the largest fires reside. We then used quantile regression to model changes in ? across the wilderness gradient, interpreting the results in terms of constraints on the relative role of large fires in structuring the fire size distribution. In the Southwest study region, the influence of large fires on size distributions decreased across the gradient toward wilderness at some places, suggesting that increased occurrence of natural burning, favored by wilderness management, led to limitations on fire sizes within recent timeframes. In contrast, we were unable to support the expectation that wilderness fire management limits the role of large fires in the Sierra Nevada and Northern Rockies study regions. Rather, the predominance of large fires increased toward wilderness interiors. Among spatial climate and topographic roughness variables included in our study, only winter and fire season precipitation limited fire size in the Northern Rockies, whereas several constraints on large fire occurrence operated in other regions. In southwestern ecosystems, evidence is needed to document stability in fire size distributions through time. In ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada and Northern Rockies, a longer temporal extent of observations may better match scales of disturbance and recovery. Our findings reflect the role of wilderness in addressing a fire deficit which has resulted from strong human influences on forests and fires over the past 150 yrs.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol and Ager, Alan A. 2013. A review of recent advances in risk analysis for wildfire management. International Journal of Wildland Fire 22:1-14.
    View Abstract for A review of recent advances in risk analysis for wildfire management

    Abstract for Miller, Carol and Ager, Alan A. (2013). A review of recent advances in risk analysis for wildfire management

    Risk analysis evolved out of the need to make decisions concerning highly stochastic events, and is well suited to analyse the timing, location and potential effects of wildfires. Over the past 10 years, the application of risk analysis to wildland fire management has seen steady growth with new risk-based analytical tools that support a wide range of fire and fuels management planning scales from individual incidents to national, strategic interagency programs. After a brief review of the three components of fire risk – likelihood, intensity and effects – this paper reviews recent advances in quantifying and integrating these individual components of fire risk. We also review recent advances in addressing temporal dynamics of fire risk and spatial optimisation of fuels management activities. Risk analysis approaches have become increasingly quantitative and sophisticated but remain quite disparate. We suggest several necessary and fruitful directions for future research and development in wildfire risk analysis.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks SA, Miller C, Nelson CR, Holden ZA. 2014. Previous fires moderate burn severity of subsequent wildland fires in two large western US wilderness areas. Ecosystems. doi: 10.1007/s10021-013-9704-x.
    View Abstract for Previous fires moderate burn severity of subsequent wildland fires in two large western US wilderness areas

    Abstract for Parks SA, Miller C, Nelson CR, Holden ZA (2013). Previous fires moderate burn severity of subsequent wildland fires in two large western US wilderness areas

    Wildland fire is an important natural process in many ecosystems. However, fire exclusion has reduced frequency of fire and area burned in many dry forest types, which may affect vegetation structure and composition, and potential fire behavior. In forests of the western U.S., these effects pose a challenge for fire and land managers who seek to restore the ecological process of fire to ecosystems. Recent research suggests that landscapes with unaltered fire regimes are more ‘‘self-regulating’’ than those that have experienced fire-regime shifts; in self-regulating systems, fire size and severity are moderated by the effect of previous fire. To determine if burn severity is moderated in areas that recently burned, we analyzed 117 wildland fires in 2 wilderness areas in the western U.S. that have experienced substantial recent fire activity. Burn severity was measured using a Landsat satellite-based metric at a 30-m resolution. We evaluated (1) whether pixels that burned at least twice since 1984 experienced lower burn severity than pixels that burned once, (2) the relationship between burn severity and fire history, pre-fire vegetation, and topography, and (3) how the moderating effect of a previous fire decays with time. Results show burn severity is significantly lower in areas that have recently burned compared to areas that have not. This effect is still evident at around 22 years between wildland fire events. Results further indicate that burn severity generally increases with time since and severity of previous wildfire. These findings may assist land managers to anticipate the consequences of allowing fires to burn and provide rationale for using wildfire as a ‘‘fuel treatment’’.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol. 2012. The hidden consequences of fire suppression. Park Science 28(3) 75-80.
    View Abstract for The hidden consequences of fire suppression

    Abstract for Miller, Carol (2012). The hidden consequences of fire suppression

    Wilderness managers need a way to quantify and monitor the effects of suppressing lightning-caused wildfires, which can alter natural fire regimes, vegetation, and habitat. Using computerized models of fire spread, weather, and fuels, it is now possible to quantify many of the hidden consequences of fire suppression. Case study watersheds in Yosemite and Sequoia–Kings Canyon National Parks were used to simulate where fires might have spread if they had not been suppressed, and what effects those fires would have had on fuels.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, Sean A., Marc-André Parisien, and Carol Miller. 2012. Spatial bottom-up controls on fire likelihood vary across western North America. Ecosphere 3(1) article12. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/ES11-00298.1
    View Abstract for Spatial bottom-up controls on fire likelihood vary across western North America

    Abstract for Parks, Sean A., Marc-André Parisien, and Carol Miller (2012). Spatial bottom-up controls on fire likelihood vary across western North America

    The unique nature of landscapes has challenged our ability to make generalizations about the effects of bottom-up controls on fire regimes. For four geographically distinct fire-prone landscapes in western North America, we used a consistent simulation approach to quantify the influence of three key bottom-up factors, ignitions, fuels, and topography, on spatial patterns of fire likelihood. We first developed working hypotheses predicting the influence of each factor based on its spatial structure (i.e., autocorrelation) in each of the four study areas. We then used a simulation model parameterized with extensive fire environment data to create high-resolution maps of fire likelihood, or burn probability (BP). To infer the influence of each bottom-up factor within and among study areas, these BP maps were compared to parallel sets of maps in which one of the three bottom-up factors was randomized. Results showed that ignition pattern had a relatively minor influence on the BP across all four study areas, whereas the influence of fuels was large. The influence of topography was the most equivocal among study areas; it had an insignificant influence in one study area and was the dominant control in another. We also found that the relationship between the influence of these factors and their spatial structure appeared nonlinear, which may have important implications for management activities aimed at attenuating the effect of fuels or ignitions on wildfire risk. This comparative study using landscapes with different biophysical and fire regime characteristics demonstrates the importance of employing consistent methodology to pinpoint the influence of bottom-up controls.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Scott, J.H., Helmbrecht, D.J., Parks, S.A., Miller, C. 2012. Quantifying the Threat of Unsuppressed Wildfires Reaching the Adjacent Wildland-Urban Interface on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming. Fire Ecology 8(2), 125-142. DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0802125
    View Abstract for Quantifying the Threat of Unsuppressed Wildfires Reaching the Adjacent Wildland-Urban Interface on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming.

    Abstract for Scott, J.H., Helmbrecht, D.J., Parks, S.A., Miller, C. (2012). Quantifying the Threat of Unsuppressed Wildfires Reaching the Adjacent Wildland-Urban Interface on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming.

    An important objective for many federal land management agencies is to restore fire to ecosystems that have experienced fire suppression or exclusion over the last century. Managing wildfires for resource objectives (i.e., allowing wildfires to burn in the absence of suppression) is an important tool for restoring such fire-adapted ecosystems. To support management decisions that allow wildfires to burn unsuppressed, land managers need a quantitative assessment of the potential for such wildfires to reach nearby fire-susceptible resources and assets. We established a study area on a portion of the Bridger-Teton National Forest near Jackson, Wyoming, USA, where land managers wish to restore fire by managing wildfires, but are concerned about the threat to residential buildings. We modeled the ignition and unsuppressed growth of wildfires starting in a remote portion of the study area using FSim, a fire occurrence, growth, and suppression simulation model. We then characterized annual area burned and the likelihood that wildfires would reach a nearby wildland-urban interface (WUI) defense zone. Early-season fires burned longer and grew larger than late-season fires, and thus had a higher likelihood of reaching the WUI zone (3 % of May fires compared to 0.1 % of October fires). Because fire managers do not anticipate managing all fire starts for resource objectives, we applied a simple rule set termed “RO rules,” indicating the fraction of starts by month to be managed for resource objectives. This reduced the expected number of fires reaching the WUI zone by 70 %, and the expected WUI zone area burned by 61 %. From 1990 to 2009, a mean of 207 ha yr-1 had been burned by wildfires starting in the remote portion of the study area. By contrast, we estimated that 14 431 ha yr-1 could burn if no fire starts were suppressed, and 4861 ha yr-1 after applying the RO rules. Our analysis approach can be extended to determine which parts of the landscape are most likely to produce fires that reach specific targets on the landscape.

  • PDF icon Download publication: McKenzie, Donald; Miller, Carol; Falk, Donald A. 2011. Toward a theory of landscape fire. Pages 3-26 in McKenzie, Donald, Miller, Carol, and Falk, Donald A., editors, The Landscape Ecology of Fire. Springer. New York.
    View Abstract for Toward a theory of landscape fire

    Abstract for McKenzie, Donald; Miller, Carol; Falk, Donald A. (2011). Toward a theory of landscape fire

    The landscape ecology of fire analyzes the causes of spatial and temporal patterns of fire severity, frequency, and size and the effects of these patterns on vegetation succession, seed and animal dispersal, species turnover, and other disturbances such as insect outbreaks. Fire is a contagious disturbance that operates at different spatial and temporal scales from other ecosystem processes. As such it challenges us to find a theoretical framework of manageable complexity that will reconcile these differences in scale and build a more unified ecology of fire. We propose, and qualitatively explore, a theoretical model of landscape fire grounded in the interactions between energy fluxes and their controls, or “regulators”, across spatial and temporal scales. Both energy and regulation can act as top-down or bottom-up drivers (controls) of fire behavior, fire spread, and fire effects. We suggest that these basic elements of landscape fire regimes may provide a synthetic quantitative framework for understanding the ecology and energetics of fire across scales, while helping us to link theoretical scaling laws to the physical world. Both of these functions can lead to better landscape fire management in a rapidly changing climate. This book is available from http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/ecology/book/978-94-007-0300-1 Springer.

  • McKenzie, Donald; Miller, Carol; Falk, Donald A., editors. 2011. The Landscape Ecology of Fire. Springer. New York. 312 pages.
    View Abstract for The Landscape Ecology of Fire

    Abstract for McKenzie, Donald; Miller, Carol; Falk, Donald A. (2011). The Landscape Ecology of Fire

    In this edited volume, we explore fire as a contagious spatial process from a number of perspectives, including fundamental landscape theory, fire-climate interactions, interactions with other ecological processes, and ecosystem management. Along the way we visit traditional domains of landscape ecology such as scaling, pattern-process interactions, and the complex interplay of top-down and bottom-up controls on ecosystem dynamics. We devote considerable space to theoretical considerations, particularly cross-scale modeling and landscape energetics, which we believe are under-represented in the current literature on landscape ecology of fire and other disturbances. In the remainder of the book, we look at fire climatology in an explicitly spatial context, examine four case studies of fire dynamics, two topical and two geographic in focus, and discuss issues facing fire management under rapid global change. http://www.leopold.wilderness.net/pubs/TheLandscapeEcologyofFire_TOC.pdf Table of Contents. This book is available from https://www.springer.com/us/book/9789400703001 Springer. Selected chapters from this book are available as ALWRI pubs 725, 726 and 727.

  • PDF icon Download publication: McKenzie, Donald; Miller, Carol; Falk, Donald A. 2011. Synthesis: Landscape ecology and changing fire regimes. Pages 295-303 in McKenzie, Donald, Miller, Carol, and Falk, Donald A., editors, The Landscape Ecology of Fire. Springer. New York.
    View Abstract for Synthesis: Landscape ecology and changing fire regimes

    Abstract for McKenzie, Donald; Miller, Carol; Falk, Donald A. (2011). Synthesis: Landscape ecology and changing fire regimes

    Here we synthesize the previous 11 chapters and provide a brief look into the future of landscape ecology of fire research. We speculate briefly on the implications for policy and management of fire in a rapidly changing climate. Section I gives us a glimpse of how new conceptual and theoretical models may enable us to think across scales and anticipate “no analog” conditions for future fire regimes. It also suggests that we can liberally borrow tools from other disciplines -- physics, engineering, complex systems, and organismic biology -- while increasing the robustness of core analyses within landscape ecology by quantifying relationships across scales. Section II begins to bring global and regional climatology into the landscape domain via the cross-scale applicability of energy-water relations. It shows promise for linking fine-scale fire spread and fire behavior to broad-scale fire climatology. Section III provides a disciplinary case study and a geographic case study. Each suggests that a myriad of processes interact with changing landscape fire regimes. Section IV looks at the human dimension and asks 1) what are the implications of expanding human populations and 2) what are the options for “guiding” landscape fire regimes such that both wildlands and populations can adapt. We close by posing a set of key research questions for the practitioners in our field, some that follow more or less directly from the outcomes presented in this book and others that draw upon the theoretical framework presented in Chapter 1. This book is available from https://www.springer.com/us/book/9789400703001 Springer.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol; Abatzoglou, John; Brown, Timothy; Syphard, Alexandra D. 2011. Wilderness fire management in a changing environment. Pages 269-294 in McKenzie, Donald, Miller, Carol, and Falk, Donald A., editors, The Landscape Ecology of Fire. Springer. New York.
    View Abstract for Wilderness fire management in a changing environment

    Abstract for Miller, Carol; Abatzoglou, John; Brown, Timothy; Syphard, Alexandra D. (2011). Wilderness fire management in a changing environment

    Federally designated wilderness areas of the United States are to be managed so that natural ecological processes such as fire and other disturbances can function without human interference. Consistent with this intent, policy and law support the strategy of allowing lightning-caused fires to burn for their ecological benefits. However, achieving the objective of stewarding the ecological role of fire has been difficult as the majority of lightning-caused ignitions in wilderness are suppressed for myriad biophysical and social reasons. We examine climate and housing patterns as two drivers that affect the wilderness fire management context. A complex set of biophysical and social factors interact to create this context, a context which varies widely among wilderness areas. Studies suggest that the politics of fire management are magnified during drought years when line officers may become less comfortable with allowing fires to burn, and high housing densities near wilderness areas elevate the consequences of a wilderness fire “escape.” Both of these drivers are expected to change rapidly in the next 20-50 years, and in this chapter, we examine how changes in broad scale patterns in housing densities and climate change might affect wilderness fire regimes and their management in the 11 western states in the conterminous US. A coarse scale analysis of national housing density and climate data is used to identify those wilderness areas that could experience the most dramatic changes. We propose that these wilderness areas serve as case studies for interdisciplinary action research designed to facilitate the management of natural fire regimes. Two wilderness areas are used as contrasting examples to illustrate the range of challenges that are likely to arise within the next several decades and conclude with a discussion of site-specific potential management strategies and responses for the future. Constraints to WFU and challenges to our ability to meet objectives will continue to intensify in many wilderness areas. This book is available from http://www.springer.com/life+sciences/ecology/book/978-94-007-0300-1 Springer.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parisien, Marc-Andre.; Parks, Sean A.; Miller, Carol; Krawchuck, Meg A.; Heathcott, Mark; and Max A. Moritz. 2011. Contributions of Ignitions, Fuels, and weather to the burn probability of a boreal landscape. Ecosystems 14:1141-1155.
    View Abstract for Contributions of Ignitions, Fuels, and weather to the burn probability of a boreal landscape

    Abstract for Parisien, Marc-Andre.; Parks, Sean A.; Miller, Carol; Krawchuck, Meg A.; Heathcott, Mark; and Max A. Moritz (2011). Contributions of Ignitions, Fuels, and weather to the burn probability of a boreal landscape

    The spatial pattern of fire observed across boreal landscapes is the outcome of complex interactions among components of the fire environment. We investigated how the naturally occurring patterns of ignitions, fuels, and weather generate spatial pattern of burn probability (BP) in a large and highly fireprone boreal landscape of western Canada, Wood Buffalo National Park. This was achieved by producing a high-resolution map of BP using a fire simulation model that models the ignition and spread of individual fires for the current state of the study landscape (that is, the ‘control’). Then, to extract the effect of the variability in ignitions, fuels, and weather on spatial BP patterns, we subtracted the control BP map to those produced by ‘‘homogenizing’’ a single environmental factor of interest (that is, the ‘experimental treatments’). This yielded maps of spatial residuals that represent the spatial BP patterns for which the heterogeneity of each factor of interest is responsible. Residuals were analyzed within a structural equation modeling framework. The results showed unequal contributions of fuels (67.4%), weather (29.2%), and ignitions (3.4%) to spatial BP patterning. The large contribution of fuels reflects how substantial heterogeneity of land cover on this landscape strongly affects BP. Although weather has a chiefly temporal control on fire regimes, the variability in fire-conducive weather conditions exerted a surprisingly large influence on spatial BP patterns. The almost negligible effect of spatial ignition patterns was surprising but explainable in the context of this area’s fire regime. Similar contributions of fuels, weather, and ignitions could be expected in other parts of the boreal forest that lack a strong anthropogenic imprint, but are likely to be altered in human-dominated fire regimes.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parks, S.A.; Parisien, M.-A. ; Miller, C. 2011. Multi-scale evaluation of the environmental controls on burn probability in a southern Sierra Nevada landscape. International Journal of Wildland Fire 20:815-828.
    View Abstract for Multi-scale evaluation of the environmental controls on burn probability in a southern Sierra Nevada landscape

    Abstract for Parks, S.A.; Parisien, M.-A. ; Miller, C. (2011). Multi-scale evaluation of the environmental controls on burn probability in a southern Sierra Nevada landscape

    We examined the scale-dependent relationship between spatial fire likelihood or burn probability (BP) and some key environmental controls in the southern Sierra Nevada, California, USA. Continuous BP estimates were generated using a fire simulation model. The correspondence between BP (dependent variable) and elevation, ignition density, fuels and aspect was evaluated at incrementally increasing spatial scales to assess the importance of these explanatory variables in explaining BP. Results indicate the statistical relationship between BP and explanatory variables fluctuates across spatial scales, as does the influence of explanatory variables. However, because of high covariance among these variables, it was necessary to control for their shared contribution in order to extract their ‘unique’ contribution to BP. At the finest scale, fuels and elevation exerted the most influence on BP, whereas at broader scales, fuels and aspect were most influential. Results also showed that the influence of some variables tended to mask the true effect of seemingly less important variables. For example, the relationship between ignition density and BP was negative until we controlled for elevation, which led to a more meaningful relationship where BP increased with ignition density. This study demonstrates the value of a multi-scale approach for identifying and characterising mechanistic controls on BP that can often be blurred by strong but correlative relationships.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Davis, Brett H.; Miller, Carol. 2010. What if we didn’t suppress fire?. In: Weber, Samantha, ed. Rethinking Protected Areas in a Changing World: Proceedings of the 2009 GWS Biennial Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites; 2009 March 1-6; Portland, OR. Proc. Hancock, Michigan: The George Wright Society: 131-134.
    View Abstract for What if we didn't suppress fire?

    Abstract for Davis, Brett H.; Miller, Carol (2010). What if we didn\'t suppress fire?

    Decades of fire suppression in Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks have altered natural fire regimes and ecological conditions. Despite having Wildland Fire Use as a restoration tool, managers still suppress most natural ignitions. Unlike other management decisions, the long term cumulative impacts of suppression decisions are seldom evaluated. We evaluated the cumulative effects of fire suppression decisions in these two parks by simulating the spread and effects of lightning ignitions that were suppressed between 1994 – 2004 using the environmental conditions that occurred at the time of ignition and used these results to measure a variety of suppression impacts. Results suggest that the suppression decisions during these 11 years have dramatically changed landscape conditions. Results are helping managers prioritize fuels management activities and weigh both the costs and benefits of management strategies chosen on future incidents.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Davis, Brett H.; Miller, Carol; and Parks, Sean A. 2010. Retrospective fire modeling: Quantifying the impacts of fire suppression. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-236WWW. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 40 p.
    View Abstract for Retrospective fire modeling: Quantifying the impacts of fire suppression

    Abstract for Davis, Brett H.; Miller, Carol; and Parks, Sean A. (2010). Retrospective fire modeling: Quantifying the impacts of fire suppression

    Land management agencies need to understand and monitor the consequences of their fire suppression decisions. We developed a framework for retrospective fire behavior modeling and impact assessment to determine where ignitions would have spread had they not been suppressed and to assess the cumulative effects that would have resulted. This document is a general guidebook for applying this methodology and is for land managers interested in quantifying the impacts of fire suppression. Using this methodology will help land managers track the cumulative effects of suppression, frame future suppression decisions and costbenefit analyses in the context of past experiences, and communicate tradeoffs to the public, non-government organizations, land management agencies, and other interested parties.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parisien, M.-A.; Miller, C.; Ager, A.A.; Finney, M.A. 2010. Use of artificial landscapes to isolate controls on burn probability. Landscape Ecology 25: 79-94.
    View Abstract for Use of artificial landscapes to isolate controls on burn probability

    Abstract for Parisien, M.-A.; Miller, C.; Ager, A.A.; Finney, M.A. (2010). Use of artificial landscapes to isolate controls on burn probability

    Techniques for modeling burn probability (BP) combine the stochastic components of fire regimes (ignitions and weather) with sophisticated fire growth algorithms to produce high-resolution spatial estimates of the relative likelihood of burning. Despite the numerous investigations of fire patterns from either observed or simulated sources, the specific influence of environmental factors on BP patterns is not well understood. This study examined the relative effects of ignitions, fuels, and weather on mean BP and spatial patterns in BP (i.e., BP variability) using highly simplified artificial landscapes and wildfire simulation methods. Our results showed that a limited set of inputs yielded a wide range of responses in the mean and spatial patterning of BP. The input factors contributed unequally to mean BP and to BP variability: so-called top-down controls (weather) primarily influenced mean BP, whereas bottom-up influences (ignitions and fuels) were mainly responsible for the spatial patterns of BP. However, confounding effects and interactions among factors suggest that fully separating top-down and bottom-up controls may be impossible. Furthermore, interactions among input variables produced unanticipated but explainable BP patterns, hinting at complex topological dependencies among the main determinants of fire spread and the resulting BP. The results will improve our understanding of the spatial ecology of fire regimes and help in the interpretation of patterns of fire likelihood on real landscapes as part of future wildfire risk assessments.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, C.; Davis, B. 2009. Quantifying the consequences of fire suppression in two California national parks. The George Wright Forum 26(1): 76-88.
    View Abstract for Quantifying the consequences of fire suppression in two California national parks

    Abstract for Miller, Carol; Davis, Brett (2009). Quantifying the consequences of fire suppression in two California national parks

    Management actions to suppress lightning-ignited wildfires remove one of the most important natural processes from fire-dependent ecosystems, and yet resource specialists currently have no way of measuring or monitoring the effects of these actions. We used retrospective fire behavior modeling and a Fire Return Interval Departure (FRID) to quantify the consequences of 11 years (1994-2004) of fire suppression for case study watersheds in Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks. Results suggest that the effects of suppression have been dramatic on these landscapes. Modeling results suggest that substantially lower values of FRID would exist if fires had been allowed to burn. This retrospective modeling approach is a quantitative method that park managers can use to better understand, measure, and track the cumulative effects of their decisions from year to year.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, C.; Parisien, M.-A.; Ager, A.A.; Finney, M.A. 2008. Evaluating spatially- explicit burn probabilities for strategic fire management planning. WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment 119:245-252.
    View Abstract for Evaluating spatially- explicit burn probabilities for strategic fire management planning

    Abstract for Miller, C.; Parisien, M.-A.; Ager, A.A.; Finney, M.A. (2008). Evaluating spatially- explicit burn probabilities for strategic fire management planning

    Spatially explicit information on the probability of burning is necessary for virtually all strategic fire and fuels management planning activities, including conducting wildland fire risk assessments, optimizing fuel treatments, and prevention planning. Predictive models providing a reliable estimate of the annual likelihood of fire at each point on the landscape have enormous potential to support strategic fire and fuels management planning decisions, especially when combined with information on the values at risk and the expected fire impacts. To this end, a spatially-explicit modelling technique, termed ‘burn probability’ (BP) modelling, has been developed to simulate fires as a function of the physical factors that drive their spread — fuels, weather, and topography — using the most sophisticated landscape-scale fire spread algorithms available. Despite several applications of the BP technique, much remains to be learned about their predictive ability. To achieve this goal, we are conducting experiments to not only unearth new discoveries about the complexities of fire-environment relationships, but also to test and compare the relevance and accuracy of modelling approaches.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol. 2008. Changing research needs in wilderness fire. International Journal of Wilderness 14(3): 21-22.
    View Abstract for Changing research needs in wilderness fire

    Abstract for Miller, Carol (2008). Changing research needs in wilderness fire

    This is part of a regular column on wilderness issues contributed each issue by Leopold Institute staff to the International Journal of Wilderness.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Falk, Donald A.; Miller, Carol; McKenzie, Donald; Black, Anne E. 2007. Cross-scale analysis of fire regimes. Ecosystems 10: 809-823.
    View Abstract for Cross-scale analysis of fire regimes

    Abstract for Falk, Donald A.; Miller, Carol; McKenzie, Donald; Black, Anne E. (2007). Cross-scale analysis of fire regimes

    Cross-scale spatial and temporal perspectives are important for studying contagious landscape disturbances such as fire, which are controlled by myriad processes operating at different scales. We examine fire regimes in forests of western North America, focusing on how observed patterns of fire frequency change across spatial scales. To quantify changes in fire frequency across spatial scale, we derive the event-area (EA) relationship and the analogous interval-area (IA) relationship using historical and simulated data from low- and high severity fire regimes. The EA and IA provide multiscale descriptions of fire regimes, as opposed to standard metrics that may apply only at a single scale. Parameters and properties of scaling functions (intercept, slope, minimum value) are associated statistically with properties of the fire regime, such as mean fire-free intervals and fire size distributions, but are not direct mathematical transformations of them because they also reflect mechanistic drivers of fire that are non-stationary in time and space. Patterns in fire-scaling relations can be used to identify how controls on fire regimes change across spatial and temporal scales. Future research that considers fire as a cross-scale process will be directly applicable to landscape-scale fire management.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, C. 2007. Simulation of the consequences of different fire regimes to support wildland fire use decisions. Fire Ecology 3(2): 83-102.
    View Abstract for Simulation of the consequences of different fire regimes to support wildland fire use decisions

    Abstract for Miller, Carol (2007). Simulation of the consequences of different fire regimes to support wildland fire use decisions

    The strategy known as wildland fire use, in which lightning-ignited fires are allowed to burn, is rapidly gaining momentum in the fire management community. Managers need to know the consequences of an increase in area burned that might result from an increase in wildland fire use. One concern of land managers as they consider implementing wildland fire use is whether they can meet the goals in the land management plan for the desired distribution of forest structural stages across the landscape with further increases in fire. These questions were explored for a 49,532 ha landscape on the Boise National Forest in Idaho that typically experiences mixed-severity and stand-replacing fires. The landscape simulation model TELSA was used to evaluate how increases in fire frequency and area burned might affect landscape composition and structure. Information about frequency, annual area burned, and size-class distributions of fires derived from a fire atlas for the northern Rocky Mountains were used to define the fire regime parameters for five different simulation scenarios. Scenarios with higher fire frequency and area burned resulted in landscapes dominated by earlier successional forest stages and only small patches occupied by large trees. Simulated variability in area occupied by different tree-size classes on this landscape was much greater than the desired ranges defined in the land management plan for the forest at large. A measure of dissimilarity (Euclidean Distance) from desired composition was used to evaluate scenarios for their relative ability to achieve long term land management goals. The lowest values of Euclidean Distance were for a scenario that represents a substantial increase in fire over 20th century fire regimes. Euclidean Distance increased for scenarios with very high rates of burning, implying an upper limit to the desired amount of fire for this landscape. These findings could be used to develop guidance for achieving desired conditions with wildland fire use.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Doane, Dustin; O’Laughlin, Jay; Morgan, Penelope, Miller, Carol. 2006. Barriers to wildland fire use: a preliminary problem analysis. International Journal of Wilderness. 12(1): 36-38.
    View Abstract for Barriers to wildland fire use: a preliminary problem analysis

    Abstract for Doane, Dustin; O’Laughlin, Jay; Morgan, Penelope, Miller, Carol. (2006). Barriers to wildland fire use: a preliminary problem analysis

    We summarize results from an Internet-based questionnaire designed to determine the primary barriers to wildland fire use as perceived by fire managers in National Forest Wilderness areas. In this summary we focus on the barriers rated important by managers that can be mitigated by the agency, which includes factors related to organizational culture, capacity, and policies originating within the agency.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol. 2006. Wilderness fire management in a changing world. International Journal of Wilderness. 12(1): 18-21,13.
    View Abstract for Wilderness fire management in a changing world. International

    Abstract for Miller, Carol. (2006). Wilderness fire management in a changing world. International

    Achieving the objective of restoring the ecological role of fire to wilderness has proven difficult as the majority of lightning-caused ignitions in wilderness are suppressed for a myriad of biophysical and social reasons. This paper discusses the fire management options currently available to managers of wilderness in the United States and speculates how these might change with two nationally and globally important drivers: climate and residential development in the wildland urban interface (WUI).

  • PDF icon Download publication: Black, Anne; Opperman, Tonja. 2005. Fire Effects Planning Framework: a user's guide. Gen. Tech. Rep.GTR-RMRS-163WWW. Fort Colins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 63 p.
    View Abstract for Fire Effects Planning Framework: a user’s guide

    Abstract for Black, A.; Opperman, T. (2005). Fire Effects Planning Framework: a user’s guide

    Each decision to suppress fire reinforces a feedback cycle in which fuels continue to accumulate, risk escalates, and the tendency to suppress fires grows (Miller and others, 2003). Existing decision-support tools focus primarily on the negative consequences of fire. This guide outlines a framework managers can use to (1) identify key areas of fire risk and (2) systematically determine where and under what fire weather conditions fire will benefit ecological conditions and management targets while reducing fuels. The Fire Effects Planning Framework (FEPF) sequentially links state-of-the-art, publicly available analysis tools, data, and knowledge to generate GIS-based planning information for a variety of scales. Primary funding for this effort was provided by the Joint Fire Science Program and the National Fire Plan.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, C. 2005. When to prescribe. Wildfire Magazine July/August. Pages 16-21.
    View Abstract for When to prescribe

    Abstract for Miller, Carol (2005). When to prescribe

    Prescribed fire is a practical and affordable way to reduce hazardous fuels while helping to restore the ecological process of fire to ecosystems. Prescribing fire requires comprehensive, socially acceptable and science-based fire management plans. Two GIS-based tools have been developed at the Aldo Leopold /Wilderness Research Institute to help land managers develop such plans. The Fire Effects Planning Framework and BurnPro provide complementary analyses of potential fire effects and the probability of fire occurrence.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Davis, Brett, Carol Miller. 2004. Modeling Wildfire Probability Using a GIS. In: Proceedings of the ASPRS 2004 Annual Conference, Denver, USA. May 23-28. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 2004. Available on CD only.
    View Abstract for Modeling Wildfire Probability Using A GIS.

    Abstract for Davis, Brett, Carol Miller. (2004). Modeling Wildfire Probability Using A GIS.

    We developed a GIS model, BurnPro, to estimate the annual probability of burning for every pixel on a raster landscape. BurnPro uses historic ignition locations, fuel models, topography, and historic weather patterns to estimate the likelihood of burning using a least-accumulative-cost distance function. The probability that fire will travel through space and time from an ignition source to any point on the landscape depends upon 1) the time required for fire to travel the distance from the ignition to the target, 2) the time remaining in the fire season, and 3) the frequency distribution of fire-stopping weather events within the fire season. Individual probability maps were calculated for each unique combination of ignition density class, fire season month, and percentile weather condition. The resulting estimate of annual probability of burning was computed as a weighted average of these individual probability maps. We are currently conducting these analyses for four national parks (Yosemite, Sequoia-Kings Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Great Smoky Mountains) and two Forest Service wilderness areas (Selway-Bitterroot and Gila-Aldo Leopold) with the aim of providing information to fire management personnel to help improve fire management plans and refine management objectives. Link to the ASPRS online store: https://eserv.asprs.org/eseries/source/Orders/index.cfm?activesection=orders (click on "Annual Conference Proceedings" to find the correct product) Link to the paper on Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute website: http://leopold.wilderness.net/research/fprojects/pdfs/ASPRS_extended_abstract.pdf

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol and Landres, Peter. 2004. Exploring information needs for wildland fire and fuels management. RMRS-GTR-127. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 36 p.
    View Abstract for Exploring information needs for wildland fire and fuels management.

    Abstract for Miller, Carol and Landres, Peter. (2004). Exploring information needs for wildland fire and fuels management.

    We report the results of a questionnaire and workshop that sought to gain a better and deeper understanding of the contemporary information needs of wildland fire and fuels managers. Results from the questionnaire indicated that the decision to suppress a wildland fire was most often influenced by factors related to safety and that the decision to allow a fire to burn was influenced by a variety of factors that varied according to land management objectives. We also found that managers anticipated an increase in the use of wildland fire, but that these increases will be moderate due to a variety of constraints that will continue to limit the use of wildland fire. From the workshop, we learned that managers will need to become increasingly strategic with their fire and fuels management planning, and that the information used to support tactical fire operations may prove to be insufficient. Furthermore, the managers participating in the workshop indicated the functional linkage between land management and fire management planning is lacking. We suggest that effective fire management planning requires information on the benefits and risks to a wide variety of values at landscape scales, integration with land management objectives, and a long-term perspective.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol 2003. Wildland fire use: a wilderness perspective on fuel management Fire, Fuel Treatments, and Ecological Restoration: Conference Proceedings; 2002 16-18 April; Fort Collins, CO. Proceedings RMRS U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 379-385 
    View Abstract for Wildland fire use: a wilderness perspective on fuel management

    Abstract for Miller, Carol (2003). Wildland fire use: a wilderness perspective on fuel management

    Current federal wildland fire policy recognizes wildland fire as an important natural process and emphasizes the need to reintroduce fire into ecosystems. The policy also recognizes that hazardous fuel accumulations may need to be reduced on vast acreages of land before fire can safely be returned to wildland ecosystems. Wildland fire and fuel managers have a variety of options for reducing fuels including wildland fire use, management ignited prescribed fires, thinning and other mechanical methods. All of these options will need to be exploited to accomplish the task of reducing hazardous fuels and restoring healthy fire-dependent ecosystems. Wildland fire use, while focusing primarily on restoring fire as a natural process and maintaining ecosystems, has the potential to be very effective for managing fuels. It may be the most appropriate strategy in wilderness and in other remote unroaded areas. To effectively implement wildland fire use, wildland fire managers will need to rely on comprehensive fire management plans. The development of these plans should include analyses needed to support the wildland fire use decision and should consider the potential benefits from wildland fire, long-term consequences of management decisions, and impacts of decisions across large landscapes.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol. 2003. Natural Fire Regimes in Wilderness. International Journal of Wilderness. 9(2): 33,48.
    View Abstract for Natural Fire Regimes in Wilderness.

    Abstract for Miller, Carol. (2003). Natural Fire Regimes in Wilderness.

    This is part of a regular column on wilderness issues contributed each issue by Leopold Institute staff to the International Journal of Wilderness

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol. 2003. Simulation of effects of climatic change on fire regimes. In: Thomas T. Veblen, William L. Baker, Gloria Montenegro, and Thomas W. Swetnam (eds.), Fire and Climatic Change in Temperate Ecosystems of the Western Americas. Springer. NY. 69-94 
    View Abstract for Simulation of effects of climatic change on fire regimes.

    Abstract for Miller, Carol. (2003). Simulation of effects of climatic change on fire regimes.

    Global climatic change will likely affect fire regimes in varied and complex ways. In addition to climate’s direct effects on fuel moisture, its effects on vegetation structure and composition must be considered because vegetation dictates the amount and types of fuels that are available for combustion. Climate-fire interactions are examined using a simulation model (FM) that was developed for the Sierra Nevada in California. This model generates fire regimes driven by climate using the same climatic parameters that govern the simulation of forest dynamics. The coupling of climate, fire, and vegetation in FM allows the model to demonstrate the direct and indirect effects of climate on the fire regime. This feature makes it useful for investigating how climatic change might simultaneously impact fire regimes and fire-dependent forests in the Sierra Nevada. Paleoecological fire history data from the Sierra Nevada were used to validate the model’s ability to generate realistic fire regimes as a function of climatic variables and forest properties. Simulation results suggest that indirect effects of climatic change on the fire regime can be at least as important as the direct effects of climatic change. Of particular interest are the responses due to changes in fuel bed characteristics that may accompany changes in species composition.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol. 2003. The spatial context of fire: a new approach for predicting fire occurrence. Pages 27-34 in K.E.M. Galley, R.C. Klinger, and N.G. Sugihara (eds.). Proceedings of Fire Conference 2000: The First National Congress of Fire Ecology, Prevention, and Management. Miscellaneous Publication No. 13, Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL.
    View Abstract for The spatial context of fire: a new approach for predicting fire occurrence.

    Abstract for Miller, Carol. (2003). The spatial context of fire: a new approach for predicting fire occurrence.

    Across North America, decades of fire suppression and recent patterns of human settlement have combined to increase the risks that wildland fires pose to human life, property, and natural resource values. Various methods can be used to reduce fuel hazards and mitigate these risks, but funding and other constraints require that these fuel treatments be prioritized across large landscapes. An understanding of where fire is most likely to occur on the landscape would allow managers to strategically prioritize their fuel hazard reduction efforts and to design effective fire management plans. Predictive models of the probability of burning can be developed using empirical relationships between landscape variables and historic fire data, but this approach is limited to areas with extensive records of historical fires. Furthermore, models that are empirically derived from landscape variables have low predictability because fire spread is a spatially contagious process; the probability of any location burning depends primarily on whether neighboring locations are likely to burn. This spatial context of fire occurrence can be addressed with a more mechanistic modeling approach. In this paper, I present a modeling approach whereby a map of the probability of burning is derived using information on the spatial distribution of fuels, topography, and ignitions. This approach uses generally available spatial data, climate information, standard geographic information system functions, and equations that describe the physics of fire spread. The potential use and application of the approach are discussed, and its performance is evaluated via a qualitative comparison with 20th-century fire occurrence data from the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in northern Idaho and western Montana.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Parsons, David J., Peter B. Landres and Carol Miller. 2003. The dilemma of managing and restoring natural fire and fuels in United States wilderness. Pages 19-26 in K.E.M. Galley, R.C. Klinger, and N.G. Sugihara (eds.). Proceedings of Fire Conference 2000: The First National Congress of Fire Ecology, Prevention, and Management. Miscellaneous Publication No. 13, Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL.
    View Abstract for The dilemma of managing and restoring natural fire and fuels in United States wilderness.

    Abstract for Parsons, David J., Peter B. Landres and Carol Miller. (2003). The dilemma of managing and restoring natural fire and fuels in United States wilderness.

    The management of natural fire and fuels in wilderness areas of the United States presents a significant dilemma to federal land managers. Wilderness fire management requires balancing mandates to both preserve natural conditions and minimize the impacts of human activities. It also requires consideration of ecological and social values both within and outside of wilderness. In many wilderness and similarly protected areas, decades of fire exclusion have resulted in conditions of unnatural vegetation and fuel accumulation. Resulting fires are increasingly of sizes and intensities unprecedented in fire history records. Although current federal interagency fire policy facilitates the use of natural ignitions (wildland fire use for resource benefits) to restore more natural fire regimes, concerns about damage to natural resources, smoke impacts on surrounding communities, and threats to life and property on adjacent lands result in the suppression of most natural ignitions occurring within wilderness. In addition, natural ignitions outside of wilderness that would otherwise burn into wilderness are commonly suppressed before they reach the wilderness boundary. If natural ignitions are not used to restore fire frequencies and intensities characteristic of pre-settlement conditions in wilderness, fire managers must decide whether to actively manage fire and fuels to restore more natural fire and fuel conditions. Although prescribed fire may be an effective means of restoring fire as a natural process, it is done at the cost of sacrificing the important value of wildness, the freedom from human control or manipulation—one of the core values of wilderness. We review this dilemma about the management and restoration of fire and fuels in wilderness, and the challenges in determining appropriate and acceptable actions in wilderness.

  • PDF icon Download publication: Miller, Carol; Landres, Peter B.; Alaback, Paul B. 2000. Evaluating Risks and Benefits of Wildland Fire at Landscape Scales. In: Neuenschwander, L.F.; Ryan, K.C., comps. Proc. Crossing the Millennium: Integrating Spatial Technologies and Ecological Principles for a New Age in Fire Management; Moscow, ID: University of Idaho: 78-87.
    View Abstract for Evaluating risks and benefits of wildland fire at landscape scales

    Abstract for Miller, Carol; Landres, Peter B.; Alaback, Paul B. (2000). Evaluating risks and benefits of wildland fire at landscape scales

    Fire suppression has resulted in severe management challenges, especially in the wildland-urban interface zone. Fire managers seek to reduce fuels and risks in the interface zone, while striving to return the natural role of fire to wildland ecosystems. Managers must balance the benefits of wildland fire on ecosystem health against the values that need to be protected from fire, and they need to achieve this balance for entire landscapes. Although wildland fire managers have a full spectrum of strategies available for reducing fuels, they lack appropriate tools for effectively applying these fuels management strategies at landscape scales. Furthermore, many managers are locked into a reinforcing feedback cycle in that perceived risks lead to fire suppression, leading to increased risks and further fire suppression. Existing tools and approaches for planning fire and fuels management perpetuate this cycle by focusing on risk while ignoring the potential benefits of fire. A GIS model is currently being developed that will assess the potential benefits from wildland fire as well as the risk to values in the interface. The model estimates both fire risk and benefit as functions of three variables, all of which vary across landscapes: (1) probability of fire occurrence, (2) expected fire severity, and (3) the ecological, social, and economic value ascribed to an area. By generating maps of fire risk and benefit, the model provides critical information that can be used to prioritize areas for fuels treatment programs. Managers can use the model to simulate alternative fuels treatments and assess their effects on fire risk and benefit across a landscape. As such, the model represents a powerful tool that will help managers develop landscape-scale plans that maximize the benefits of wildland fire while minimizing the risks to values in the wildland-urban interface zone.

Total Results: 70

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989,974,991,973,962,945,995,933,942,953,926,931,913,937,920,948,951,934,949,865,906,843,812,842,811,814,824,825,816,829,888,837,815,806,803,818,834,828,791,792,798,751,746,776,727,728,725,726,745,762,707,709,685,670,660,664,613,639,575,576,562,552,509,519,480,492,460,501,499,413
413,480,492,460,501,499,509,519,562,552,575,576,613,639,660,664,670,707,709,685,725,727,728,726,745,762,751,746,776,791,792,798,816,829,888,837,815,806,803,818,834,828,843,812,842,811,814,824,825,926,931,913,937,920,948,951,934,949,865,906,933,942,953,962,945,995,989,974,991,973
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