Restoring Resilient Landscapes in the Western Klamath Region - implications for future fires, vegetation, habitat, and carbon dynamics
Principal Investigator: Dr. Susan Prichard
Project Partners: Dr. Frank Lake, Dr. Paul Hessburg, Dr. Nick Povak, Will Harling, Luna Latimer, and Brion Salter
Institution: University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
Project Type: General Research
Grant Award: #8GG21821
Amount awarded: $499,716
Award Date: March, 2021
The western Klamath Mountains are renowned for high biodiversity that was historically maintained by diverse mountain terrains, steep and varying climatic gradients, and active fire regimes. As with many frequent-fire ecosystems, Indigenous burning practices coupled with lightning ignitions promoted resilient forest structure and composition, traditional foods and medicines, and diverse vegetation and habitat conditions. However, a legacy of Euro-American colonization and a subsequent long period of fire exclusion have dramatically increased vulnerability of these ecosystems to climate change and future disturbances. The overarching objective of this research project is to guide adaptive forest and fire management in the western Klamath Mountains by modeling vegetation and fire dynamics under current and projected future climate. The project was funded in spring 2022 and is in the planning phase.
We will use a fire and vegetation dynamics modeling system called REBURN that simulates fire and vegetation dynamics on an annual time step. Forest and fuel succession and dynamics with low, moderate and high severity fire events are represented in state and transition models that grow and modify canopy and surface fuels annually across the major forest types of the study area. REBURN uses an operational fire simulation model to spread individual wildfire events with recorded historical ignitions and daily weather. The REBURN model allows us to evaluate a range of fire and climate scenarios using a model that iteratively simulates fire-vegetation dynamics and potential implications for wildlife habitat, carbon, and wildfire emissions.
Our proposed research is guided by two questions: (1) What combinations, seasons, and extents of cultural burning, prescribed burning and managed wildfires -- either alone or coupled with strategic thinning treatments -- are needed to foster fire- and climate-resilient landscapes in the study area? (2) What are the carbon, emissions and habitat tradeoffs when restoring a more natural role of fire in the project area? Using REBURN, we will develop scenarios for landscape and community resilience restoration based on a combination of forest and fuels management, cultural burning, and managed wildfires. We will use a simulation modeling platform to evaluate approaches to restoring fire in the western Klamath Mountains and explore tradeoffs to carbon, wildfire emissions, and wildlife habitat. Central to this project is the evaluation of cultural burning, forest management and managed wildfires to foster climate- and wildfire resilient landscapes. Specifically, we will evaluate restoration strategies within a potential operations delineation (PODS) framework and long-term strategies for reducing risk to communities, culturally significant resources, and ecosystem values.
No publications at this time.