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Project ID: 06-3-1-27

Year: 2006

Date Started: 09/06/2006

Date Completed: 11/07/2011

Title: Fire Regimes of Montana Grasslands of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico

Project Proposal Abstract: Montane grasslands particularly those occurring at middle and high elevations are among the least understood ecosystems in the western United States in terms of their fire regimes. These systems harbor high biological diversity, play key roles in nutrient, water, and carbon cycling, and provide landscape connectivity for many animal species. In the southwestern U.S., montane grasslands occupy more than 18 million acres, making them an important landcover type in the region. For these and many other reasons, a thorough understanding of the fire regimes of montane grasslands in the Southwest is long overdue. In this collaborative project we undertake the first large-scale study of the fire regimes of southwestern montane grasslands, using the recently established Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) as our study area. The VCNP is a major recent addition to the nation's system of public lands, one of the few large acquisitions and a keystone landholding in the heart of the Jemez Mountains. The 89,000 acres of the VCNP are surrounded by a mix of Forest Service, National Park Service, State, and Native American lands. A series of large and spectacular montane grasslands form one of the most conspicuous features of the VCNP. These ecosystems are also the focus of current VCNP management activity, including grazing and prescribed burning programs. The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (University of Arizona) and the VCNP are collaborating on this study, which responds directly to JFSP AFP 2006-3, Task 1: Supporting the needs of wildland fire managers and policy makers in understanding past, current and future natural fire regimes. In the following proposal, we outline how we intend to meet this task through a work plan focused on five linked objectives identified as priorities in the AFP: 1. Quantify the historic natural fire regime of the VCNP montane grasslands, using a combination of fire-scar and cohort evidence from the grassland-forest ecotone. 2. Complement fire history with contemporary observations of fire behavior in montane grasslands of the major valles; 3. Characterize the spatial dynamics of the grassland-forest ecotone and landscape patterns of fire spread into higher elevation forests. 4. Describe the effect of climate variability on the grassland fire regime using the long dendrochronological record of fire and both reconstructed and instrumental climate records. 5. Organize the scientific insights from the project for immediate application by the VCNP to meet pressing management needs. Because of the close LTRR-VCNP collaboration, critical information from this project will be conveyed directly to VCNP resource managers. Indeed, the design of the Project itself has been partly in response to information needs identified by the VCNP, which is undertaking a prescribed burning program in the valles and needs historical fire regime understanding to support this activity. In addition to a series of publications, the Project includes an active information transfer component, including workshops, field tours, and a permanent photo and data archive. Project summaries and images will be posted on both the LTRR and VCNP websites.

Principal Investigator: Donald A. Falk

Agency/Organization: University of Arizona-Tucson

Branch or Dept: School of Natural Resources & the Environment

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Craig D. Allen

USGS-Geological Survey

FORT-Fort Collins Science Center

Co-Principal Investigator

Robert R. Parmenter

Valles Caldera National Preserve-Interagency

Preserve Science & Research

Co-Principal Investigator

Thomas W. Swetnam

University of Arizona-Tucson

Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research

Federal Cooperator

Clifford Dils

Forest Service

Sante Fe National Forest

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Southern Rockies









Other Federal Lands

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
    3698 Dataset (including spatial) Fire Chronology for theValles Caldera National Preserve: 1500-2000
    3868 Field Demonstration/Tour Field Tour of Project Study Site
    3898 Poster Top-Down and Bottom-Up Control of Fire Regimes in Montane Grasslands of the Valles Caldera, NM
    3899 Poster Stochastic Modeling of Fire Regimes in Montane Grasslands and Forest Ecotones of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, NM
    3900 Computer Model/Software/Algorithm Top-Down and Bottom-Up Control of Fire Regimes in Montane Grasslands of the Valles Caldera, NM, USA
    5919 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Stochastic Fire Modeling of a Montane Grassland and Ponderosa Pine Fire Regime in the Valles Caldera National Preserve, NM

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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