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Individual Highlight

After Fire: Landscape Toolkit for the Southwest

Photo of Treated hillslopes following the Little Bear Fire on the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico.
Treated hillslopes following the Little Bear Fire on the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico. Snapshot : Wildfires, an important natural disturbance in southwestern ecosystems, can present challenges to resource managers, communities, and private landowners when they burn areas subject to post-fire flooding and erosion. Many government agencies and research institutions have developed science and management tools for estimating post-fire effects and mitigating risks in burned landscapes. USDA Forest Service scientists assessed the utility of currently available tools and resources for application on non-federal lands and by non-federal user groups.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Friggens, Megan M. Driscoll, Katelyn P.
Research Location : Southwestern USA
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2019
Highlight ID : 1567

Summary

Wildfires, an important natural disturbance in southwestern ecosystems, can present challenges to resource managers, communities, and private landowners when they burn areas subject to post-fire flooding and erosion. It is important for these groups to respond rapidly to threats from post-fire events to reduce impacts and loss. Many government agencies and research institutions have developed science and management tools for estimating post-fire effects and mitigating risks in burned landscapes. Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams work on lands managed by the federal government to apply these tools to assess watershed conditions, evaluate risks, and identify appropriate treatments. However, after wildfire, many non-federal landowners and managers also need to manage and reduce risk on their lands. USDA Forest Service scientists assessed the utility of currently available tools and resources for application on non-federal lands and by non-federal user groups. Tools used by federal teams were identified through literature review, discussion with BAER team members, contacting experts in the field, and searches of websites dedicated to BAER and other post-fire tools. They evaluated three critical factors that relate to the accessibility of each tool: required inputs, required equipment, and availability of guidance. Each of these factors was scored according to how accessible they made the tool. To estimate the overall ease of use, the scientists summed the scores for the three metrics. Tools that scored higher were considered easier to use, and those with low scores were considered less accessible. Additionally, they collected information on four supplemental characteristics: geographic scope, landscape scale at which the tool operates, whether tools use curve numbers, and whether the tool is capable of estimating treatment effects. These characteristics do not necessarily influence accessibility, but are important information to be considered when selecting appropriate tools. An online toolkit (https://postfiresw.info/) provides information on several post-fire resources including guidance for resource managers to learn about, plan for, and implement post-fire management actions to reduce risks associated with erosion and flooding.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Anna Jaramillo-Scarborough, USFS Southwestern Region
  • Dan Neary, RMRS
  • Deborah Finch, RMRS
  • Max Smith, RMRS
  • Pete Robichaud, RMRS
  • New Mexico State University
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • USDA Sputhwest Climate Hub
  • University of Arizona