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Interim Field Guide


At-Risk Municipal Watersheds

A number of methods, protocols, or tools can be used to assess risks after a fire has burned in a municipal watershed. Some methods apply to a wider set of conditions or a broader geographical area than others. One method for assessing the risks is described in chapter 4 of Mapping Wildfire Hazards and Risks (Sampson, Atkinson, and Lewis 2000, see below). Field personnel should employ methods for which they have reliable data and confidence. Some local applications may provide the best estimates.

The erosion potential after a fire can be estimated by entering information on vegetation, soils, slope length and steepness, and fire severity in the Disturbed WEPP model, available online at: http://forest.moscowfsl.wsu.edu/engr/erodesw.html.

Slope stability can be estimated using the LISA model (assuming that 5 years after a severe fire, root strength and tree surcharge will be 0). This model is available at: http://forest.moscowfsl.wsu.edu/engr/slopesw.html.

Source Water Assessments, created at the State level, may be an additional source of data and information. About 40 States have completed their assessments (http://www.epa.gov/safe water/protect/assessment.html).

Information on abandoned mines on DOI BLM lands is available at: http://www.blm.gov/aml.


Dissmeyer, George E., ed. 2000. Drinking water from forests and grasslands: a synthesis of the scientific literature. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-39. Chapter 12—Fire Management. Chapter 18—Hardrock Mining. Available online at: http://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/viewpub.jsp?index=1866.

Robichaud, Peter R.; Beyers, Jan L.; Neary, Daniel G. 2000. Evaluating the effectiveness of post fire rehabilitation treatments. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-63. Fort Collins, CO:U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 85 p. Available online at: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr63.html.

Sampson, Neil R.; Atkinson, Dwight R.; Lewis, Joe W., eds. 2000. Mapping wildfire hazards and risks. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, Inc. ISBN 1-56022-071-6. Chapter 4—Predicting Post-Fire Erosion and Sedimentation Risk on a Landscape Scale: A Case Study from Colorado.

Seaber, P. R.; Kapinos, F. P.; Knapp, G. L. 1987. Water-Supply Paper 2294. Hydrologic unit maps: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey. 63 p. 52

Threats of Insect or Disease Epidemics

A variety of risk- and hazard-rating systems and models have been developed for some of the most important insects and diseases that affect forests. Because of regional differences in forest types and associated insect and disease activity, the tasks of selecting an appropriate hazard rating system, choosing data collection methods, analyzing data, and interpreting the results will require consulting with professional pathologists and entomologists.

Outbreak factors, impacts, and management strategies for the West are described in Assessment and Response to Bark Beetle Outbreaks in the Rocky Mountain Area (RMRS-GTR-62, http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr62.html).

A listing of local forest health specialists is available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/regional_offices.html.

The Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team supports a variety of forest pest extensions for the Forest Vegetation Simulator at:http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/technology/products.shtml.

Additional information on forest insects and diseases is available online at: http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/pubsindex.shtml and http://www.forestpests.org/.

Threatened and Endangered Species

Web Sites

Birds and Burns Network (fire effects on wildlife in ponderosa pine)

Endangered Species Act net benefits and alternative approaches guidance

Endangered Species Consultation Handbook

Endangered Species Consultation with Federal agencies

Fire Effects Information System (threatened and endangered species habitat and fire information)

National Fire Plan Project Design and Consultation

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries (threatened and endangered species programs and information)

NatureServe Explorer (threatened and endangered species habitat and fire information)

Science Synthesis and Integration for Fuels Planning: Ecological Consequences

The Nature Conservancy Fire Initiative

The Nature Conservancy Conserve Online

Threatened and endangered species habitat and fire profiles, listing rules, and recovery plans

USDA Forest Service research publications

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (threatened and endangered species recovery and recovery plans)

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (threatened and endangered species programs, information, and species searches)

Wildfire, the Endangered Species Act, and human safety

Wildland fire in ecosystems: effects of fire on fauna

Wildland fire in ecosystems: effects of fire on flora


Attiwill, P. M. 1994. The disturbance of forest ecosystems: the ecological basis for conservation management. Forest Ecology and Management. 63: 247–300.

Battles, J. J.; Shlisky, A. J.; Barrett, R. H.; Heald, R. C.; Allen-Diaz, B. H. 2001. The effects of forest management on plant species diversity in a Sierran conifer forest. Forest Ecology and Management. 146: 211–222.

Berger, John J., ed. 1990. Environmental restoration: science and strategies for restoring the earth. Washington, DC: Island Press. 398 p.

Brosofske, K. D.; Chen, J.; Crow, T. R. 2001. Understory vegetation and site factors: implications for a managed Wisconsin landscape. Forest Ecology and Management. 146: 75–87.

Conner, R. N.; Rudolph, D. C.; Walters, J. R. 2001. The red-cockaded woodpecker: surviving in a fire-maintained ecosystem. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 363 p.

Falk, D. A.; [and others]. 1996. Restoring diversity: strategies for reintroduction of endangered plants. Island Press. 505 p.

Gilliam, F. S. 2002. Effects of harvesting on herbaceous layer diversity of a central Appalachian hardwood forest in West Virginia, USA. Forest Ecology and Management. 55: 33–43.

Kotliar, N. B.; Hejl, S.; Hutto, R. L.; Saab, V.; Melcher, C. P.; McFadzen, M. E. 2002. Effects of wildfire and post-fire salvage logging on avian communities in conifer-dominated forests of the Western United States. Studies in Avian Biology. 25: 49–64.

Kulhavy, David L.; Conner, Richard N., eds. 1986. Wilderness and natural areas in the eastern United States: a management challenge. Nagadoches, TX: Stephen F. Austin State University, School of Forestry, Center for Applied Studies. 416 p.

Lyon, L. J.; [and others]. 1978. Effects of fire on fauna: a state-of-knowledge review. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-6. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 41 p.

Pickett, S. T. A.; White, P. S. 1985. The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.

Saab, V. A. 1997. Cavity-nesting bird responses to stand-replacement fire and post-fire salvage logging. Blue Mountains Natural Resources Institute. 7: 8–9.

Saab, V.; Powell, H., eds. [In review]. Fire and avian ecology in North America. Studies in Avian Biology.

Scheller, R. M.; Mladenoff, D. J. 2002. Understory species patterns and diversity in old-growth and managed northern hardwood forests. Ecological Applications. 12: 1329–1343.

Wood, G. W. 1981. Prescribed fire and wildlife in southern forests. Georgetown, SC: Clemson University, Belle W. Baruch Forest Science Institute. 170 p.

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