US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Carol L. Miller

Research Ecologist
790 East Beckwith Avenue
Missoula, MT 59801
Phone: 406-542-4198
Contact Carol L. Miller

Current Research

Primary responsibilities are to develop the understanding necessary to guide the stewardship of fire as a natural process in wilderness. This includes: 1) studying natural fire regimes and how they have been altered by management, 2) evaluating options for the stewardship of fire as a natural process and the consequences of these management alternatives, and 3) seeking to understand the social and institutional factors that influence the evaluation of tradeoffs by fire managers and members of the public.

Research Interests

Agents of landscape pattern formation. Interactions among fire regimes, climate, and vegetation pattern. Implications of fire suppression and our ability to restore fire as an ecosystem process. Effects of global climatic change on disturbance regimes.

Past Research

*Integration of fuel dynamics and fire processes into a forest succession model for the Sierra Nevada in California so that climate-fire-forest interactions could be better studied and understood. *Development, use, and evaluation of spatially explicit models to map the likelihood of burning across heterogeneous landscapes. *Retrospective modeling for quantifying the impacts of past suppression decisions. *Co-editor of a book on the Landscape Ecology of Fire.

Why This Research is Important

Managers of protected areas, such as wilderness, have the challenge of restoring or maintaining the disturbance process of fire while considering a suite of other social and ecological values inside and outside the boundaries of these areas. Their decisions can have long lasting consequences that are difficult to predict. Fire suppression is the dominant fire management strategy across all land designations, and in many areas, suppression has contributed to increasing hazardous fuel accumulations, increasing probability of extreme fire behavior and effects, and altered ecosystem structure and function. These results run counter to protected area management goals, and continue to increase the vulnerability of nearby human communities to wildland fire. Fire suppression also has helped to distort human perceptions of natural systems. The orientations toward fire management held by the public and government agencies need to shift away from suppression as the dominant strategy and toward a stewardship of the process of fire that includes natural and prescribed fire.


  • Penn State University, BS Electrical Engineering, 1985
  • Colorado State University, MS Forest Sciences, 1994
  • Colorado State University, Ph.D. Ecology, 1998

Professional Organizations

  • Society For Wilderness Stewardship, Member (2011 - Current)
  • Association for Fire Ecology, Member (2005 - Current)
  • International Association of Wildland Fire, Member (2001 - Current)
  • International Association for Landscape Ecology (U.S. Chapter), Member (1998 - Current)

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

Research Highlights


The Effectiveness of Wildfire as a Fuel Treatment

New research results provide crucial information to land managers as they assess trade-offs associated with wildfire suppression and appropriate ...


The hidden consequences of fire suppression

Researchers are investigating the true costs of suppressing wildfires and finding results that will have broad national applicability. Their me ...


Last updated on : 10/07/2014