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The Wildfire Climate Relationship in the Selway- Bitterroot Wilderness: Using Management Strategies to Return Wildfire to Wilderness Landscapes.

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Presentation on theme: "The Wildfire Climate Relationship in the Selway- Bitterroot Wilderness: Using Management Strategies to Return Wildfire to Wilderness Landscapes."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Wildfire Climate Relationship in the Selway- Bitterroot Wilderness: Using Management Strategies to Return Wildfire to Wilderness Landscapes

2 2 When you think of wilderness…….What do you imagine?

3 3 Area of Interest Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area IDAHO The Wilderness ACT of 1964

4 4

5 5 The Wilderness Act of 1964 Wilderness is to be “untrammeled” by man. –Who knew a reference to a horse could be so important to wilderness legislation.

6 6 BUT……. Fire has and is successfully suppressed across wilderness landscapes. Effectively, 99% of all wildfire is suppressed

7 7 Wildfire Suppression Alters fire occurrence changing…… –Natural plant communities –Succession –Vegetation mosaic –Accumulations of fuel –Wildlife habitat –Nutrient cycles –Energy flows –The interplay between fire, insects and disease –Ecosystem productivity, diversity and stability –Water quantity and quality Direct Conflict to Wilderness Legislation!

8 8 Understanding the Variables Fire Extent, Frequency and Severity Influenced By –Topography (elevation, aspect, slope and geology) –Vegetation types –Climate

9 9 Climate and Fire Palmer Drought Severity Indices (PDSI) Superposed Epoch Analysis (SEA) Fire Atlases/National Interagency Fire Management Integrated Database (NIFMID )

10 10 So, What do the Pros Say? Fire atlas data: –70% of the SBW has burned Between 1880 and fires –75% of this total is attributed to the 6 largest fire years. 1889, 1910, 1919, 1929, 1934 &1988 –WHY IS THIS?

11 11 Generally………. PDSI Values Extreme Drought

12 Year Perspective

13 13 Similarly………

14 14 Local/Global La Nina and El Nino Phases are important Variance in precip. Occurs at 40 degrees N. –So………

15 15 Wilderness and Fire “Wilderness fire, in its purest form, should be “wild” fire: unfettered by the constraints of humans. We have never prescribed a “let-it-blow” policy for tornadoes and hurricanes, a “let-it-erupt” policy for volcanoes or a “let-it-grind” policy for glaciers. Why, then, did we need a “let-it- burn” policy for fires.”-Agee –Fire is a natural disturbance that humans can sometimes manipulate. –Social stigmas, politics and economics all influence the human response to wildfire. –Fire suppression has previously been viewed as a way to protect forest resources for future harvest.

16 16 Fire & The Future A natural disturbance Wilderness… and its future ecological health Scientific Knowledge and Current Conditions –Provide land managers with tools for re- establishment of fire in wilderness ecosystems…..WFU’s and AMR

17 17 Associated Costs & Benefits Standard Suppression $ /Acres Fuels Treatment $1200/acre at an estimated million acres WFU’s 43$/Acre

18 18 Conclusion Natural interaction exists between climate and wildfire in the SBW Larger scales of interest also are important to consider Suppression has altered wildfire frequency, extent and severity normally influenced by climate, topography and vegetation

19 19 References


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