Webinar Series: Fire Ecology and Forest Resilience in the Pacific NW (4 of 8)
A Webinar Series by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement and the Washington Chapter of The Wildlife Society
When: Thursdays from 11:30 am to 12:30 noon Pacific Time (US and Canada)
March 7, 2024, through May 2, 2024 (excluding April 25)
The work of wildfire in restoring landscapes: lessons from the 2021 and 2022 fire seasons in Washington State
Dr. Garrett Meigs and Dr. Derek Churchill, WDNR.
Coauthors: Ana Barros, Chuck Hersey, Annie Smith (WDNR)
Summary: In recent years, wildfires have burned millions of acres in Washington State, inducing a wide range of effects across environmental gradients and forest types. In 2017, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) launched the 20-Year Forest Health Strategic Plan to accelerate landscape-scale wildfire risk reduction, ecosystem restoration, and climate adaptation across all lands in eastern Washington. To better understand the widespread impacts of the 2021 fire season, we piloted a rapid assessment to evaluate the work of wildfire – i.e., the degree to which fire effects were consistent with the landscape resilience and wildfire risk reduction objectives of the 20-Year Plan. Here, we present lessons from the 2021 and 2022 fires across eastern and western Washington. We highlight how wildfires have both positive and negative effects, depending on location, forest type, and landowner objectives. Using examples from the 2021 Schneider Springs Fire (eastside) and 2022 Bolt Creek Fire (westside), we demonstrate approaches for mapping and monitoring fire effects, evaluating fuels treatment effectiveness, and engaging with wildfire managers to understand how they utilize treatments. Given recent trends and climate projections, understanding and harnessing the work of wildfire will be increasingly important for forest health and landscape resilience