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Project ID: 09-S-04-18

Year: 2010

Date Started: 07/01/2010

Ending Date:  09/30/2020

Title: California Fire Science Exchange

Project Proposal Abstract: The State of Californias 100 million acres includes some of the most ecologically diverse, highly populated, and fire-prone ecosystems in the United States. Across the state, dozens of local, state, and federal agencies are directly responsible for the fire management of these lands. In California, expenditures spent preventing fires, suppressing fires, and implementing fuel treatments at the stand and landscape level are approaching $1 billion dollars per year with a trend of ever-increasing costs and damages. With the massive level of public investment in fire management, it is critical that decisions utilize the best available science. This appears to be a relatively straightforward proposition, but a consistent understanding of what defines the best available science remains elusive whether you are talking with resource managers, line officers, scientists, or advocacy groups. Is it the most recently published information? Or a single published paper? Must it be backed by broad scientific consensus, or include the most local studies? Are all results equally important or credible? Agencies are directed to take a hard look and use the best available science when applying the NEPA process to develop land management actions and decisions. This allows agencies to design and analyze fire-related treatments based on recent, relevant science. However, resource specialists reported that they are often overwhelmed by the task of finding, reading, digesting and synthesizing research for NEPA documents. This is particularly true for Forest Service personnel. In order to wade through the literature, resource specialists said they often only read the abstract, discussion, and conclusion sections of scientific papers. If no management implications are identified, they may not read the paper at all. In addition, fuel-reduction and fire-related projects on Forest Service lands often receive negative public comments accompanied by as many as 150 citations from scientific literature. Each of these references must be located, digested, addressed and documented in the project record even though they may be for situations, ecosystems and geographies not very relevant to the project area. Other agencies also feel that the scientific bar has been raised considerably. For example, Bureau of Land Management staff noted that their NEPA documents, as well as the new interagency fire management plan documentation, require strict scientific analysis and documentation. A fire management plan is required by all federal agencies for every area with burnable vegetation. As critical as determining what constitutes the best available science, there are several steps between the publication of that information and its effective use by resource-management personnel. These steps include searching for, retrieving, organizing, interpreting, and applying scientific information for decision making at the project and policy level. We sent a team of scientists to investigate these key steps by conducting formal interviews with many of the resource managers, NEPA planners, legal staff, and scientists most involved in the issue of fire management and fuel-treatment planning and implementation in California. This included over 75 interviews with staff from the US Forest Service (Region 5), National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Office of General Counsel, and CALFIRE. The initial results of these interviews were used to develop an online science delivery questionnaire, which was sent to 800 agency and resource management staff across the state. Five main issues were idenfified by fire managers that we would address if this consortium were funded. Detailed information on each topic is provided in our proposal.

Principal Investigator: Scott L. Stephens

Agency/Organization: University of California-Berkeley

Branch or Dept: Department of Environmental Sciences-Policy & Management

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Stacey S. Frederick

Oregon State University

Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society

Co-Principal Investigator

Susie D. Kocher

University of California-Berkeley

Department of Environmental Sciences-Policy & Management

Federal Cooperator

David R. Weise

Forest Service

PSW-Forest Fire Lab-Riverside

Federal Fiscal Representative

Anna Wong

Forest Service

PSW-Pacific Southwest Research Station

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network










Other Federal Lands

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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