The Science Application & Communication (SA&C) Program is a knowledge transfer unit at the Rocky Mountain Research Station that provides leadership for the integration and use of scientific information in natural resource planning and management across the Interior West.
Land managers benefit from access to relevant science and technology, and scientists benefit from on-the-ground observations of managers. However, researchers and managers operate in very different realms. Their work requires them to ask different questions, use different words, operate at different paces, and produce different products. The SA&C staff help address these differences so researchers and managers can partner in mutually beneficial knowledge exchange.
Connecting the Laboratory and the Field
SA&C helps the Rocky Mountain Research Station and land managers connect the laboratory with the field so science can be put into practice. Key efforts include:
Supporting RD&A Programs
The Forest Service charters Research, Development, and Application (RD&A) programs to develop urgently needed research and apply new technology and results on the ground. RD&As are national in scope and emphasize science application and delivery. SA&C oversees two RD&As currently administered by the Rocky Mountain Research Station: the Human Factors & Risk Management RD&A and the Wildland Fire Management RD&A.
The Human Factors & Risk Management RD&A is helping the Forest Service develop a safety culture that is highly reliable and resilient; one where employees take a proactive and systematic approach to managing risk. Researchers with the RD&A provide support for accident investigations and incident reviews of escaped prescribed fires, and they undertake high-priority research to further organizational learning.
The Wildland Fire Management RD&A serves as point-of-contact for communication between scientists and field managers in the wildland fire environment. Researchers with the RD&A facilitate the development and application of wildland fire science and decision support tools (e.g., the Wildland Fire Decision Support System). They also provide science application services to the national interagency wildland fire community through the National Fire Decision Support Center.
Coordinating Interior West Science-Management Connect
The SA&C staff and the National Forest Foundation convene the Interior West Science-Management Connect to serve as a peer network for improving the exchange of expertise and advice around science application and delivery. The team of researchers and science application specialists participates in monthly webinars to share technology transfer strategies and techniques and to increase support for this type of work. The peer network welcomes the participation of any interested individuals. For additional information, contact Todd Mowrer.
Communicating National Fire Plan Research
Researchers at the Rocky Mountain Research Station develop knowledge, tools, and technologies with funding through the National Fire Plan to respond to information needs expressed by managers. SA&C initiated the development of a series of 10 briefing papers to describe NFP research studies to potential users.
SA&C funded a total of nine projects in Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 to help deliver these results and technologies to the field. For example, researchers used SA&C funding in 2010 to develop manager toolkits for burned area rehabilitation, create tutorials and web tools for optimizing fuel treatments, prepare a user manual for the SIMPPLLE simulation model, and film a “fire swirl” safety training video.
Addressing Climate Change in the Interior West
The Interior West Climate Change Working Group of the Forest Service seeks to coordinate a proactive and collaborative response to climate change impacts. This group represents a science-management partnership between the Rocky Mountain Research Station and the Northern, Rocky Mountain, Southwest, and Intermountain Regions of the National Forest System. The working group is addressing elements of the Forest Service Climate Change Scorecard through numerous activities, such as developing climate change workshops; piloting a field-based greenhouse gas inventory, tracking, and reporting system; and coordinating watershed vulnerability assessments.
Participating in Joint Fire Science Knowledge Exchange Consortia
The Joint Fire Science Program funds a national network of regional Knowledge Exchange Consortia to accelerate the awareness, understanding, and adoption of wildland fire science information by federal, tribal, state, local, and private stakeholders. RMRS is a partner in the Great Basin Science Delivery Project, Southwest Fire Science Consortium, and the Southern Rockies Fire Science Network. In addition, SA&C provides support to the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network, a proposed consortium that recently submitted a proposal for full funding from the Joint Fire Science Program.
Building the “Science You Can Use” Website
SA&C is actively developing the Science You Can Use website. This site will provide user-friendly access to products from the Rocky Mountain Research Station and our partners that help put science into practice. We are constantly improving and updating this site with the latest and greatest science syntheses, applied science results, and management tools.