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Science Spotlights

Scientists, engineers, and economists have joined together to learn more about the link between trade and species spread around the globe. This project is called "The Non-indigenous Species World Risk Assessment and Prediction System." 
High-severity wildfires are increasing and researchers are issuing different findings regarding wildfire impacts on spotted owls (Strix occidentalis), a threatened species that nests in mature, western forests with large trees and high canopy cover. Data from different studies show mixed responses of spotted owls to fire, but suggest that the effects of high-severity wildfires could be significant throughout the range of all three subspecies....
Figure 2. Sampling the mineral soil.
Many U.S. forests contain soils with high rock content, and quantities of stored carbon and nitrogen. There is a need to calculate changes in carbon and nutrient pools in soils, but current sampling methods are not completely reliable in rocky soils. Managers and climate change researchers are using estimates of carbon pools to indicate soil productivity, alteration of biological activity, impacts from fire, or carbon storage potential. 
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In the mid-1800s, Colorado’s Front Range forests were more open and two to three times less dense than they are today. Today, these forests have become far more dense and crowded with smaller trees which has inherently increased vulnerability to large wildfires, insect epidemics and disease. RMRS-GTR-373 is a guide to place-based restoration of ponderosa and dry mixed-conifer forests targeted to land managers working in the Colorado Front Range ...
Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) treatment implementation on the Pike-San Isabel National Forest, Colorado.
New novel study expands the scope of monitoring efforts in one of the first USDA Forest Service Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) landscapes, Colorado’s Front Range. Results from this study highlight both the effective aspects of restoration treatments, and the importance of initiating and continuing collaborative science-based monitoring to improve the outcomes of forest restoration efforts.  
Mulched stands at a ponderosa pine – Douglas-fir study area, 6–9 years post-treatment.
Mulching fuels treatments have been increasingly implemented by forest managers in the western USA to reduce crown fire hazard. These treatments use heavy machinery to masticate or chip unwanted shrubs and small-diameter trees and broadcast the mulched material on the ground. Because mulching treatments are relatively novel and have no natural analog, their ecological impacts are poorly understood.  
Mountain big sagebrush. Photo by Jeanne Chambers, USDA Forest Service RMRS
Historically, the sagebrush biome was the most widespread non-forest vegetation type in temperate North America. Compared with historic conditions, current sagebrush ecosystems are reduced in extent, fragmented, degraded, and face multiple threats (Welch 2005), including altered fire regimes (USDI 2015).
This large Douglas-fir died in 2012 and is surrounded by many smaller Douglas-fir, white fir, and Southwestern white pine that recruited during fire exclusion.  Stand density in mesic mixed conifer forests increased on average 1725% during fire exclusion.
The onset of fire exclusion in western North American forests in the late 1800s began one of the largest unintended landscape ecology experiments in human history. The current ecology of these forests and the ecological impacts of returning fire to these forests is strongly influenced by the amount of forest change that has occurred during the fire-free period. Understanding how different forest types responded to fire exclusion is important for...
The global composite index of the wildfire-water risk shows spatial distribution of risk from wildfire impacts on water resources. About half of the area globally (51%) is at moderate risk (values between 20 and 40).
Freshwater resources are vital to humans and our natural environment. Water systems around the world are at risk resulting from population growth, urban development, ecosystem degradation, climate change, and over the past several years, from large catastrophic wildfires. Scientists developed the first global evaluation of wildfire risks to water security bringing us a step closer to a global database that maps key wildfire-water risk indicators...
A firefighter crew hiking out from a wildland fire burning in a pinyon-juniper woodland along the Utah-Nevada border. Photo by Dan Jimenez, U.S. Forest Service.
Escape routes are essential components of wildland firefighter safety, providing pre-defined pathways to a safety zone. Among the many factors that affect travel rates along an escape route, landscape conditions such as slope, low-lying vegetation density, and ground surface roughness are particularly influential, and can be measured using airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data.

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