• Federal Caucus sponsors Fire Science workshop

    See Fire Science Workshop Agenda 

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    The science of fire management and how it affects fish habitat was the topic of a day-long workshop sponsored by the Columbia Basin Federal Caucus and Ecotrust May 13, 2015. Ecologists, fisheries experts,hydrologists and fire fighters came together to offer insights.

    Jason Dunham, an aquatic ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said his studies had found that with less tree and vegetation cover post-fire, juvenile fish grow faster while fewer adult fish can use the habitat. He affirmed, though, that fish can and do adapt to post-fire landscapes. He encouraged people to “manage for the mess. Preserve the processes that create and maintain complexity in nature.” Other scientists discussed how fires can help deliver wood to streams and the resulting benefits for fish and how food webs are affected by fire.

    The common theme was that fire can be beneficial. “We have to rebuild the landscape,” said Paul Hessburg, a research landscape ecologist with the USDA-Forest Service. Carpets of same-sized evergreens on many of today’s Pacific Northwest hills and slopes don’t look anything like the “patchy” landscapes some 80 years ago when fires were less aggressively controlled. “We have an epidemic of trees and the fires are showing us that,” he said.

    Federal Caucus Chair Mary Lou Soscia, with the Environmental Protection Agency, said that the Caucus has sponsored a number of similar workshops this year. “We’re excited about taking the Federal Caucus in this direction,” she said. “I think it is a great role for us to bring experts from the nine member federal agencies together, along with tribes, states, many others involved in protecting fish and watersheds, to learn from each other and help inform management decisions.”

  • Workshop presentations
    Colden Baxter "Wildlfire & the stream-riparian web of life"  

    John Buffington "How fires affect the way sediment and wood are conveyed to streams and the affect on channel morphology & aquatic habitat"

    Jason Dunham "Fish and fire: a selective tour of findings since 2001"

    Kate Dwire "Managing and restoring riparian areas in western firescapes"

    Paul Hessburg "Anadromous and cold-water fish: fire adaptive and fire dependent?"

    Charlie Luce "Forests, fire, fish, water and climate change"

    Helen Neville "In-stream restoration and fish passage in the context of fire"