USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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Newsletter Archive | News Flash Archive



arrowField Experiments in Fire Behavior Move to Texas

FERA’s involvement in prescribed research fires continued this week with a small but well-documented series of prescribed fires in grass fuels on the Texas National Guard’s Camp Swift adjacent to Bastrop, Texas. FERA was joined by colleagues from the Texas Forest Service, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Rocky Mountain Research Station, Colorado State University and San Diego State University. The main focus was to gather field data with which to validate fire behaviour models; secondary research was conducted to assess the effectiveness of fuel breaks in stopping the spread of the fire. Additional research fires, in higher wind speeds, are planned for March.

The adjacent community of Bastrop was the site of 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire, the most destructive in Texas history, burning 1,673 homes and costing $325 million of insured property damage. Both NIST and the Joint Fire Science Program were major financiers of this project.


arrowLeadership in Transition
As of January 1, 2014, FERA’s team leader David L. Peterson stepped aside to take another Forest Service position, and research forester Clint Wright took on those duties until a new team leader can be appointed. Dave is pleased to be working at a national level guiding groups of national forests as they adjust their planning goals to consider climate change. 


arrowReport in Preparation on Fuel Treatment Effectiveness in Area Burned by California’s Rim Fire

FERA’s Morris Johnson spent more than 30 days this summer on the 2013 Rim Fire, third largest wildfire in California's history, collecting data for the US Forest Service National Fuel Treatment Effectiveness Monitoring (FTEM) program. In 2006, FTEM was established to evaluate the effectiveness of prescribed fire and mechanical treatments designed to reduce the risk of wildfire. When a wildfire starts within or burns into a fuel treatment area, an assessment is conducted to evaluate the resulting impacts on fire behavior and fire suppression actions. This work verified that the treatments were implemented, and then measured burn severity and mortality in each treated stand. The final report will be available in early March 2014.

Preliminary report

Los Angeles Times article



arrowFire Behavior in Masticated Fuels: a Review

Roger Ottmar joined with collaborators to produce this review of the current literature on fuels and fire behavior following mastication of forest fuels. They highlight the variation of fire behavior across ecosystems, and identify key science needs to better explain fire behavior and effects in these treatments.

arrowFuel Characteristic Classification System Version 3.0: Technical Documentation

If you’ve ever wanted to look “under the hood” of the Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS) to see what and how it calculates fuel characteristics, wait no more. This general technical report provides detail on the calculation of the characteristics, surface fire behaviour results, and each of the potentials. Dr. Susan Prichard led the team that compiled the many variables and equations.


arrowRxCADRE Experiment Featured in Fire Science Digest

The Joint Fire Science Program features the RxCADRE prescribed research burns in this exceptional digest which describes the purpose, experiment, outcomes, and potential future implications for basic fire and smoke research. Photos and graphics supplement explanations of the data gathered and research conducted.


arrowClimate Change and United States Forests
This new book, edited by three Forest Service researchers, had its genesis in an earlier science synthesis on effects of climatic variability and change on U.S. forest ecosystems. FERA’s Dave Peterson joined with Drs. Jim Vose and Toral Patel-Weynand to add to the series Advances in Global Change Research, now available as an e-book and in hardcover.


arrowSummit Fire Research Finds Treatment Effects Variable 15 Years Postfire
Long-term effects of fuel treatment and logging in altering future fuel loads in the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon (Malheur National Forest) was the subject of a recently-completed Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) research project sponsored by FERA’s Roger Ottmar in collaboration with Jim McIver of Oregon State University.

Data collected and analyzed during the 1996 Summit Fire study indicate, among other findings, that: in 2012 snag density remained higher in stands without post-fire logging; initial differences in slash fuel loading among treatments had disappeared after 13 years; and snag, regeneration, and fuel conditions did not differ between logged and unlogged study sites that were subsequently re-burned by a wildfire. Dramatic reductions in snag density, fuel loading, and tree regeneration were observed across all treatments following the 2008 Sunshine Fire that burned one of the four experimental blocks from the original study.  Thus, in this case, postfire logging did not change the effects of wildfire for the developing stand.



None scheduled at this time.


U.S. Forest Service - PNW- FERA
Last Modified: Monday, 10 February 2014 at 14:07:36 CST

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