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Toward a more ecologically informed view of severe forest fires

Author(s): Richard L. Hutto, Robert E. Keane, Rosemary L. Sherriff, Christopher T. Rota, Lisa A. Eby, Victoria A. Saab
Year Published: 2016

We use the historical presence of high-severity fire patches in mixed-conifer forests of the western United States to make several points that we hope will encourage development of a more ecologically informed view of severe wildland fire effects. First, many plant and animal species use, and have sometimes evolved to depend on, severely burned forest conditions for their persistence. Second, evidence from fire history studies also suggests that a complex mosaic of severely burned conifer patches was common historically in the West. Third, to maintain ecological integrity in forests born of mixed-severity fire, land managers will have to accept some severe fire and maintain the integrity of its aftermath. Lastly, public education messages surrounding fire could be modified so that people better understand and support management designed to maintain ecologically appropriate sizes and distributions of severe fire and the complex early-seral forest conditions it creates.

Citation: Hutto, Richard L.; Keane, Robert E.; Sherriff, Rosemary L.; Rota, Christopher T.; Eby, Lisa A.; Saab, Victoria A. 2016. Toward a more ecologically informed view of severe forest fires. Ecosphere. 7(2): 1-13.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - First Order, Fire Severity, Fire History, Severity
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article, Synthesis
NRFSN number: 14023
FRAMES RCS number: 21805
Record updated: Jun 30, 2016