There is increasingly contentious scientific debate over how much high-severity fire should be considered “natural” in dry conifer forests across the western U.S. In many policy and management arenas this debate is a frustrating roadblock to effectively integrating science into decision-making, often promoting inaction. Inaction is not a solution to conservation problems. Fire is widely seen as one of the most important conservation uncertainties, and it directly affects the health and well-being of people living near fire-prone landscapes. Resources go toward legal battles instead of toward prioritized activities based on good science. To sustainably coexist with fire in the context of climate change, identifying common ground among fire researchers is crucial. At the same time, there is growing concern over how to best manage fire-prone landscapes in the face of an uncertain future.
This working group will: 1) highlight the core research questions and datasets needed to make progress on these debates; 2) identify and articulate the consensus that already exists among fire scientists on the role of high severity fire in western coniferous forests, particularly in the context of ecosystem resilience under climate change; and 3) focus on policy and management decisions that do not hinge on resolving specific aspects of debate and provide recommendations for how to proceed on issues that do.
This project is generously supported by the The Wilburforce Foundation and by the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP), generously funded through founding grants by Shirley and Harry Hagey, Steve and Roberta Denning, Seth Neiman, Angela Nomellini and Ken Olivier, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.More information for project participants Visit the SNAPP website