See also p. 24 WFOctNovDec2022 for updates on fuel break projects on the Kenai by Tracy Robillard.
Please also note a great Post-Doc opportunity with one of AFSC’s collaborating scientists to study boreal climate change impacts and mitigation methods. It pays well (~$68,000 year for two years) and comes with a lot of flexibility and opportunities for global scale collaboration. The ad is here: https://www.edf.org/jobs/cooley-postdoctoral-science-fellow
It has long been assumed that bark beetle outbreaks on the Kenai lead to increased fire danger, even though beetle disturbance has been shown to have mixed effects on crown fire potential, fuel profiles and burn severity in the Rocky Mountains. Winslow Hansen, doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin, recently published an analysis of beetle outbreaks and fire on the Kenai Peninsula between 2001-2014 (Hansen et al. 2016). He looked at effects in pure white spruce stands–where duration of beetle attacks is longer and mortality greater–and in mixed white and black spruce stands common on the northern peninsula, where attacks are less severe. His analysis indicates mixed effects: severely damaged white spruce stands did not demonstrate increased fire occurrence (instead, % canopy cover appeared to drive likelihood of burning) while the mixed white/black spruce stands didshow a positive correlation with beetle outbreaks and fire. Winslow explores the reasons for this in his relatively short article: worth reading. You may remember Winslow from his previous work on beetles/fire effects and property values on the Kenai (recorded MS Thesis defense) and climate effects on fire regime (recorded 2015 presentation).
A new report by USFWS Kenai Refuge fire staff (Nate Perrine) examines
areas where the 2015 Card Street fire intersected completed fuels treatments. He utilized IFTDSS (Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System) modeling to analyze the treatment effect on fire behavior, and also documented post fire effects within the treated areas. This well-illustrated discussion includes recommendations for future treatments and analyses–a must-read for fire fuels specialists in Alaska! Click below to download a pdf.
Presented by:Matt Jolly, PhD
Research Ecologist, USFS
Fire, Fuel and Smoke Science Program
Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory
Live fuel moisture is measured frequently throughout the country as an indicator of potential fire behavior but little is known about the primary factors that drive their seasonal variations. Dr. Matt Jolly will delve into the interactive factors that control live fuel moisture and will discuss some of the potential implications of these factors on seasonal variations in the fire potential of living plants. Ultimately, he will show how the interactions between the water content of the foliage and seasonal changes in the leaf’s dry weight combine to influence calculated live fuel moisture and its flammability.
This project was funded by the Joint Fire Science Program with contributions from local, state and federal agencies. This project was designed to quantify the effects of fuels reduction treatments on fire behavior and post-fire vegetation dynamics in Alaska black spruce. The study began in 2006 with installation of four 1-acre treatment blocks. Two blocks were thinned to 8 x 8 foot spacing and limbed, one was shearbladed, and one was shearbladed and windrowed. These four blocks were replicated in the adjacent forest unit, with the intent to burn each Unit (A and B) separately. Unit A was successfully ignited on June 17, 2009. READ MORE
Forest thinning, such as this work done in the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon, may be of value for some purposes but will also increase carbon emissions to atmosphere, researchers say. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)
John L Campbell, Mark E Harmon, Stephen R Mitchell. Can fuel-reduction treatments really increase forest carbon storage in the western US by reducing future fire emissions?Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2011; : 111215051503003 DOI: 10.1890/110057
This workshop is dedicated to evaluating the 2008 LANDFIRE Refresh data related to fire behavior fuel models across all of Alaska. Fuel layer maps and rule sets specific to the 13/40 and Canadian Fuel Models will be reviewed by map zone. This is your opportunity to provide feedback and make this a better product for Alaska!