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Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference

Editor(s): Robert E. Keane, William Matt Jolly, Russell A. Parsons, Karen L. Riley
Year Published: 2015

Large fires or “megafires” have been a major topic in wildland fire research and management for over a decade. There is great debate regarding the impacts of large fires. Many believe that they (1) are occurring too frequently, (2) are burning abnormally large areas, (3) cause uncharacteristically adverse ecological harm, and (4) must be suppressed at all costs. Others believe that large fires can effectively reintroduce fire back into those declining fire-prone ecosystems where fires have been excluded for decades, thereby (1) improving ecosystem health, (2) reducing future fire hazard, (3) providing critical fuel breaks, and (4) increasing ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change. Adding to the dilemma is the fact that little is known of the short- and long-term ecological impacts of large fires on historical, contemporary, and future landscapes and this lack of knowledge fuels the debate that surrounds both the causes and consequences of large fires. Just because a fire is large doesn’t necessarily mean that it is unnatural or undesirable, unless, of course, it threatens human life and property. Large fires may provide unique opportunities to restore ecosystems and treat fuels across extensive areas.

The purpose of this conference was to present the latest science on large fires and their ecology and management, to shed some light on the social, political and ecological consequences of these fires, and provide a forum for discussing all perspectives of the debate. This conference brought together ecologists, wildland fuels specialists, fire behavior researchers and analysts, social scientists, managers, and researchers in the broad fields of wildland fire sciences to present the latest findings and to provide potential solutions. In addition, this conference allowed presenters to share their state-of-the-art scientific findings in fire ecology, wildland fuels, fire and human behavior or other topics outside of large fires. It was held in Missoula, Montana, USA, from May 19 to May 23, 2014 at the University of Montana’s University Center.

Citation: Keane, Robert E.; Jolly, Matt; Parsons, Russell; Riley, Karin. 2015. Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 345 p.
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Fire Ecology, Fuels, Risk
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
NRFSN number: 18395
FRAMES RCS number: 20842
Record updated: Nov 13, 2018