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Wildland Fire

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Wildland Fire - Photo by U.S. Forest Service
Over the past several years the number and size of invasive grass induced wildland fires have grown at an alarming rate. It is now well established that there is a feedback mechanism between invasive species and fire. For example, in the West, this is primarily a function of fire-tolerant invasive grasses spreading into landscapes which were previously much less prone to burning; where native plants did not provide a continuous bed of fine fuels but non-natives do. Significant effort is being devoted to looking at the inter-relation of invasive species and wildland fire, including vegetation and weed management, post-fire recovery, and pinpointing high risk hotspots. (Source: National Invasive Species Council - Wildland Fire and Invasives).

 

Spotlights

DOI. Bureau of Land Management.

The Bureau of Land Management has released the final programmatic environmental impact statement for fuels reduction and rangeland restoration in the Great Basin. This programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) is intended to further efforts to conserve and restore sagebrush communities within a 223 million-acre area that includes portions of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah.

Sagebrush communities in the Great Basin are a vital part of Western working landscapes and are home to over 350 species of plants and wildlife. Intact sagebrush communities are disappearing within the Great Basin due to increased large and severe wildfires, the spread of invasive annual grasses, and the encroachment of pinyon-juniper. The Great Basin region is losing sagebrush communities faster than they can reestablish naturally. Fuels reduction and rangeland restoration treatments can reduce fire severity, increase sagebrush communities' resistance to invasive annual grasses and improve their ability to recover after wildfires.

University of Wyoming. Wyoming Public Media.

Images of this year’s most devastating wildfires across the West have shown forests of ponderosa, spruce and lodgepole engulfed in flames. Fires on grasslands and rangelands may not capture as much coverage, but can be just as landscape-altering as forest fires. Plus, they can spread more rapidly, and in some cases, cause more damage than fires in forested areas. Across the West, the increasing prevalence of invasive plants, and the growing influence of climate change, is changing the relationship between vast rangelands, drought, and wildfire.

University of Colorado Boulder. Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.

Invasive cheatgrass, reviled by Western ranchers and conservationists, has long since earned a reputation as a firestarter, making wildfires worse and more common. Same with climate change: It's well understood that climate warming is making western wildfires worse. But it’s not just cheatgrass anymore, or just a warming West: a new analysis finds at least seven other non-native grasses can increase wildfire risk in places across the country, some doubling or even tripling the likelihood of fires in grass-invaded areas.

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this subject, organized by source. Or, to display all related content view all resources for Wildland Fire

Federal Government

USDA. Forest Service.

This state-of-knowledge review of information on relationships between wildland fire and nonnative invasive plants can assist fire managers and other land managers concerned with prevention, detection, and eradication or control of nonnative invasive plants. The 16 chapters in this volume synthesize ecological and botanical principles regarding relationships between wildland fire and nonnative invasive plants, identify the nonnative invasive species currently of greatest concern in major bioregions of the United States, and describe emerging fire-invasive issues in each bioregion and throughout the nation. This volume can help increase understanding of plant invasions and fire and can be used in fire management and ecosystem-based management planning.

DOI. NPS. Glacier National Park.

USDA. FS. Northern Research Station.

State and Local Government

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Academic

University of California. Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Professional

California Native Plant Society.

In Fremontia, the journal of the California Native Plant Society.