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News Release

Date: November 12, 2013

New report outlines science for improved management of forest ecosystems

FORT COLLINS, Colo., November 12, 2013 – Providing a science-based framework for restoring frequent-fire forested ecosystems in the Southwest is the objective of a newly published report, Restoring Composition and Structure in Southwestern Frequent-Fire Forests: A science-based framework for improving ecosystem resiliency. The report is a multi-year collaborative effort between the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station and Southwestern Region, and the Northern Arizona University.

Forest Service and University scientists and managers synthesized 100 years of published forestry science to help forest managers better understand the ecology of “frequent-fire” forests, a unique type of forest that historically experienced frequent, but low-severity surface fire events. The publication provides recommendations for taking action, which if implemented, will restore an uneven-aged forest structure with tree groups and grass-forb-shrub interspaces between the groups that characterized these forests before the introduction of intensive management in the 20th century. Restoring tree groups of different sizes and ages separated by grass-forb-shrub interspaces will increase the resilience of these forests to fire, insects, disease and climate change. Restoration of these forests will also re-establish native plant and wildlife habitats, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and other important natural resource values.

According to Regional Forester Cal Joyner, “We now have a science-based framework to inform the restoration of our forests to improve their resilience, sustainability and biodiversity. Attaining this vegetation structure will allow ecological processes such as fire to function once again as surface fires. The science-based framework will assist land managers in developing management plans and practices to achieve restoration of our forests. This report is the coalescing of science and practical application for the benefit of the land.”

This report is available at www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/44885. You can request a printed copy by calling 970-498-1393 and reference RMRS-GTR-310 in your request.

The Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) is one of seven regional units that make up the U.S. Forest Service Research and Development organization - the most extensive natural resources research organization in the world. The Station maintains 12 field laboratories throughout a 12 state territory encompassing the Great Basin, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and parts of the Great Plains, and administers and conducts research on 14 experimental forests, ranges, and watersheds, while maintaining long-term databases for these areas. RMRS research is broken into seven science program areas that serve the Forest Service as well as other federal and state agencies, international organizations, private groups, and individuals. To find out more about the RMRS go to www.fs.fed.us/rmrs. You can also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/usfs_rmrs.


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Cass Cairns
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Phone: 970-498-1370

Cathie Schmidlin
Public Affairs Specialist Southwestern Region Phone: 928-266-2023 Email