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Project ID: 16-1-01-1

Year: 2016

Date Started: 09/01/2016

Ending Date:  08/01/2019

Title: Identifying and protecting wildfire refugia in a warmer, drier Pacific Northwest

Project Proposal Abstract: Climate change is projected to cause increases in wildfire activity and severity, thereby affecting ecosystem services and forest regrowth. Increased fire severity due to hot and dry weather can lead to a decrease of unburned areas within the fire perimeter. Unburned areas (in one to multiple fire cycles) can function as wildfire refugia for a diverse array of biota, important for ecosystems maintaining biodiversity and potentially recolonize areas that have become temporarily uninhabitable. We have established a classification system for detecting unburned islands using satellite data across the northwestern United States and we propose to leverage this work to (1) validate our model in a year with exceptional hot and dry conditions leading to an extreme fire year (namely 2015), (2) to establish a ranking system that assesses the importance of the unburned islands for post-fire resource management, and (3) develop scenarios for preserving/promoting these unburned islands or wildfire refugia. We will perform a field campaign to collect data at three fires across the Pacific Northwest that burned in 2015 and evaluate and improve our models for this extreme fire year. Subsequently, we will work with our agency collaborators to identify unburned patches that function as refugia for important species (including the sage grouse and plant species that are important seed sources). We will establish a ranking system for the importance of a given unburned island using the spatial characteristics of the burned landscape, species composition, and habitat suitability indices. Finally, we will establish several management scenarios to preserve or promote unburned areas on the landscape in subsequent fire years.

Principal Investigator: Arjan JH Meddens

Agency/Organization: University of Idaho

Branch or Dept: Department of Geography

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Deborah N. Shaver

University of Idaho

Office of Sponsored Programs

Budget Contact

Steven A. Kirkham

University of Idaho

Office of Sponsored Programs

Co-Principal Investigator

Andrew T. Hudak

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Moscow

Co-Principal Investigator

Crystal A. Kolden

University of Idaho

Department of Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences


Richy J. Harrod

Forest Service

Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests


Regina Rochefort

NPS-National Park Service

North Cascades NPS Complex

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network







Pacific Coast States


Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

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