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Project ID: 01-1-1-06

Year: 2002

Date Started: 05/16/2002

Date Completed: 11/05/2007

Title: Historical Wildland Fire Use: Lessons to Be Learned From Twenty-Five Years of Wilderness Fire Management

Project Proposal Abstract: We propose three research tasks that take advantage of a 25-year legacy of wildland fire use in the Gila/Aldo Leopold Wilderness Complex (GALWC) in New Mexico using landscape-scale experimentation and simulation modeling. Individually, these tasks will address the following main research questions: 1) How do landscape composition, structure, and function vary under different fire management strategies? 2) Are there thresholds in pre-fire stand structure in ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir forests that lead to undesired levels of canopy mortality in wildland fire use operations? and 3)1-low sensitive are fire regime metrics based on fire scar collections to different sampling strategies? Together, the three proposed research tasks will quantir the effects of specific types of fires on landscape structure, composition, and function based on extehsive fire history databases, broad-scale ecological simulation modeling, and 25 years of well-documented wildiand fire use in the GALWC. The first Proposed Research Task (to be completed at the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory) involves simulation of change in landscape composition and structure, and ecosystem processes under different fire management alternatives and climate scenarios using the mechanistic disturbance-ecosystem process model Fire-BGC. Simulation results will be compared to assess the effects of different wildfire use treatments on wildlife, water, and nutrient resource at landscape scales. The second Proposed Research Task (to be completed at the University of Idaho) involves evaluating thresholds in pretreatment stand structure that lead to undesired levels of mortality in wildland fire use operations. By substituting space for time we will conduct a statistically controlled, landscape-scale experiment based on 25 years of wildland fire use in the GALWC. The third Proposed Research `Task (to be completed at the University of Arizona) involves quantitative evaluation of different sources of fire history information for assessing fire regimes. Results from this task will be useful in identifying the confidence and caution that should be applied to fire history data and interpretations of fire regimes based on different fire history methodologies. Syntheses of the three research tasks will provide information and empirically derived guidelines useful for fire managers and fire scientists to evaluate fire management plans, wildiand fire use, and broad scale fuel treatments throughout the Interior West.

Principal Investigator: Matthew G. Rollins

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: WO-Research & Development

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Penny Morgan

University of Idaho

Department of Forest Resources

Co-Principal Investigator

Scott L. Stephens

University of California-Berkeley

Department of Environmental Sciences-Policy & Management

Co-Principal Investigator

Jan W. Van Wagtendonk

USGS-Geological Survey

WERC-Yosemite Field Station


Paul Boucher

Forest Service

Gila National Forest


Anthony C Caprio

NPS-National Park Service

Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks


John J. Keane

Forest Service

PSW-Pacific Southwest Research Station


Kathy Schon

NPS-National Park Service

NIFC-National Interagency Fire Center


Nathan Stephenson

USGS-Geological Survey

WERC-Sequoia & Kings Canyon Field Station

Federal Cooperator

Matthew G. Rollins

Forest Service

WO-Research & Development

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network


Northern Rockies



There are no project locations identified for this project.

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
    64 Ph.D. Dissertation Natural Wildfires in Sierra Nevada Wilderness Areas (B.M. Collins)
view or print   2533 Journal Article Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
view or print   2535 Journal Article Ponderosa Pine Snag Densities Following Multiple Fires in the Gila Wilderness, New Mexico
view or print   3391 Journal Article Landscape Ecology
view or print   310 MS Thesis Evaluation of Novel Thermally Enhanced Spectral Indices for Mapping Fire Perimeters and Comparisons with Fire Atlas Data (Z. Holden)
view or print   183 MS Thesis Thirty Years of Wildland Fire Use: Effects of Multiple Fires on Stand Structure in Two Southwestern Wilderness Areas (Z. Holden)
    4733 Invited Paper/Presentation Thirty Years of Wildland Fire Use: Effects of Repeated Fires on Ponderosa Pine Forest Stand Structure in the Gila
    4734 Invited Paper/Presentation Twenty-Year Patterns of Burn Severity in the Gila National Forest, New Mexico
    4735 Invited Paper/Presentation Changes in Landscape Composition in Southwest Ponderosa Pine Forests After 25 Years of Wildland Fire Use
  go to website 4736 Website  
    4699 Invited Paper/Presentation Historical Wildland Fire Use: Lessons to be Learned from Twenty-Five Years of Wilderness Fire Management
    4700 Invited Paper/Presentation Changes in Vegetation Structure and Landscape Composition in Southwest Ponderosa Pine Forests After 25 Years of Wildland Fire Use
    5658 Invited Paper/Presentation Evaluating 25 Years of Wildland Fire Use in Ponderosa Pine Forests: Tree Mortality and Stand Structure
    5659 Invited Paper/Presentation Effects of Natural Fire Programs on Fire Occurrence and Stand Age Structure in Sierra Nevada Wilderness Areas

Supporting Documents

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