The Wildfire Climate Relationship in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness:
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The Wildfire Climate Relationship in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness: Using Management Strategies to Return Wildfire to Wilderness Landscapes. When you think of wilderness…….What do you imagine?. Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area. Area of Interest. IDAHO. The Wilderness ACT of 1964.

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When you think of wilderness…….What do you imagine?

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When you think of wilderness what do you imagine

The Wildfire Climate Relationship in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness:Using Management Strategies to Return Wildfire to Wilderness Landscapes


When you think of wilderness what do you imagine

When you think of wilderness…….What do you imagine?


When you think of wilderness what do you imagine

Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area

Area of Interest

IDAHO

The Wilderness ACT of 1964


The wilderness act of 1964

The Wilderness Act of 1964

  • Wilderness is to be “untrammeled” by man.

    • Who knew a reference to a horse could be so important to wilderness legislation.


When you think of wilderness what do you imagine

BUT…….

  • Fire has and is successfully suppressed across wilderness landscapes.

  • Effectively, 99% of all wildfire is suppressed


Wildfire suppression

Wildfire Suppression

  • Alters fire occurrence changing……

    • Natural plant communities

    • Succession

    • Vegetation mosaic

    • Accumulations of fuel

    • Wildlife habitat

    • Nutrient cycles

    • Energy flows

    • The interplay between fire, insects and disease

    • Ecosystem productivity, diversity and stability

    • Water quantity and quality

  • Direct Conflict to Wilderness Legislation!


Understanding the variables

Understanding the Variables

  • Fire Extent, Frequency and Severity

    Influenced By

    • Topography (elevation, aspect, slope and geology)

    • Vegetation types

    • Climate


Climate and fire

Climate and Fire

  • Palmer Drought Severity Indices (PDSI)

  • Superposed Epoch Analysis (SEA)

  • Fire Atlases/National Interagency Fire Management Integrated Database (NIFMID)


So what do the pros say

So, What do the Pros Say?

  • Fire atlas data:

    • 70% of the SBW has burned

      • Between 1880 and 1996

      • 524 fires

    • 75% of this total is attributed to the 6 largest fire years.

      • 1889, 1910, 1919, 1929, 1934 &1988

        • WHY IS THIS?


Generally

Extreme Drought

PDSI Values

Generally……….


300 year perspective

300 Year Perspective


Similarly

Similarly………


Local global

Local/Global

  • La Nina and El Nino Phases are important

  • Variance in precip. Occurs at 40 degrees N.

    • So………


Wilderness and fire

Wilderness and Fire

  • “Wilderness fire, in its purest form, should be “wild” fire: unfettered by the constraints of humans. We have never prescribed a “let-it-blow” policy for tornadoes and hurricanes, a “let-it-erupt” policy for volcanoes or a “let-it-grind” policy for glaciers. Why, then, did we need a “let-it-burn” policy for fires.”-Agee

    • Fire is a natural disturbance that humans can sometimes manipulate.

    • Social stigmas, politics and economics all influence the human response to wildfire.

    • Fire suppression has previously been viewed as a way to protect forest resources for future harvest.


Fire the future

Fire & The Future

  • A natural disturbance

  • Wilderness… and its future ecological health

  • Scientific Knowledge and Current Conditions

    • Provide land managers with tools for re-establishment of fire in wilderness ecosystems…..WFU’s and AMR


Associated costs benefits

Associated Costs & Benefits

  • Standard Suppression $150-250/Acres

  • Fuels Treatment $1200/acre at an estimated 90-200 million acres

  • WFU’s 43$/Acre


Conclusion

Conclusion

  • Natural interaction exists between climate and wildfire in the SBW

  • Larger scales of interest also are important to consider

  • Suppression has altered wildfire frequency, extent and severity normally influenced by climate, topography and vegetation


References

References


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