Klamath Fire Ecology Symposium
The 2014 symposium was another successful gathering of land managers, scientists, tribes, conservationists and community members for important sharing of current research and discussions regarding fire history and ecology in the Klamath Mountains. Nowhere else in the country are the social, cultural, and ecological realities of fire discussed with such candor and connection to place. Over the course of the three days, more than 80 participants gained a deeper sense of the past, present and future of fire in the Klamath Mountains.
Important discussion highlights of this symposium included:
• Fire exclusion has occurred simultaneously with a changing climate—the past 100 years have been the wettest in many centuries—which has produced fuel and vegetation conditions never seen before.
• The last time we have seen so little fire on the landscape in this region was when glaciers were retreating at the end of the last Ice Age.
• Fires are getting larger and more difficult to manage.
• “Fire severity” has been defined various ways in research, leading to confusion on the topic. “Fire severity” measures relative change, whereas “fire intensity” is an exact measure of the amount of energy released during a fire event. Every fire has some degree of mixed severity depending on the scale.
• The paradigm is shifting in wildland fire management, especially concerning community collaboration. Community liaisons can be a critical asset during a wildfire. Local knowledge is being listened to. Giant steps are being made with regard to collaborative landscape planning.
• Traditional fire knowledge has much to offer regarding fire management for multiple resources. Fire managers are listening more carefully to tribal practitioners and resource specialists, but there is still room for improvement. Fire suppression has had significant impacts to the Karuk Tribe’s culture and ceremonies, including their ability to gather the food, fiber and medicine resources that require specific fire cycles at different places on the landscape.
• Post-fire salvage logging decisions involve a complex balance between habitat and hazard. Issues brought up by participants included road building, erosion, invasive species and economics. A landowner whose property burned during the Orleans Fire last July asked the group to come on their field trip and offer specific advice regarding salvage logging in the burned area. As a result, his decisions will be better informed. Agreements on the scope and scale of salvage logging between diverse stakeholders are needed.
• Recent fire footprints—those that are less than 10 years old—can and should be used to manage future fires. They can be allowed to burn as part of maintenance and towards the long term goal of restoring historic fire regimes—or, given climate change, more resilient fire regimes.
• Science must inform policy. Policy must be flexible enough to incorporate adaptive management.
Tuesday, April 15th:
- Prioritizing Fuels Treatments in the Western Klamath Mountains Using Geospatial Data, Collaborative Planning, and Local and Tribal Knowledge (Will Harling, Mid Klamath Watershed Council)
- Historical and Observed Wildfire Severity Examples in Montane Forests of Colorado and Other Western States (Rosemary Sherriff, Humboldt State University)
- Fire Science and Management: Bridging the Gap in Northern California (Lenya Quinn-Davidson, Northern California Prescribed Fire Council)
- Klamath People, Communities, and Landscapes: Fitting In and Standing Out in the National Context (Nick Goulette, Watershed Research and Training Center)
- Klamath Mountains as a Learning Landscape to Engage Students in search and Management (Jeff Kane, Humboldt State University)
- Northwest California Deciduous Oak Woodlands: Learning from 25 Years of Management and Restoration on National Park Service Lands (Eamon Engber, Redwood National Park)
- Community Liaison Program - Trial By Fire (Karuna Greenberg, Salmon River Restoration Council)
The third Klamath Fire Ecology Symposium brought together a diverse array of fire ecologists, federal, tribal and local fire managers, and rural residents to discuss pathways forward managing fires in one of the most complex fire environments of the Western U.S. Over the course of three days, participants listened to presentations and held lively discussions on recent fire studies and how fire suppression can be modified to produce better benefits to communities and the landscape. The effects of climate change on the fire environment were put into sobering perspective: in the next 100 years a four-fold increase in fires is predicted for the Western Klamath Mountains. The effects of fires on fish and riparian habitats was made clearer through presentations that linked smoke inversions to salmon runs, and fire intensity to various inputs into anadromous streams with both positive and negative effects on the fishery. Lake sediment charcoal analysis studies showed how plant assemblages were driven by historic climate changes and climate's primary agent of change: fire. Federal andlanning at the district level between Fire Safe Council's, tribes, and the USFS to guide more localized suppression actions during large wildfire events. Finally, presentations comparing the fire management practices of native communities pre-contact to the current fire suppression paradigm highlighted opportunities to combine the best of both practices into future landscape level fire management strategies. Many thanks to all who attended and made this symposium such a success. Special thanks to The Nature Conservancy Fire Learning Network for providing funding to convene this incredible group of people in the heart of the Klamath Mountains!
Tuesday, April 26th
- Will Harling, Executive Director, Mid Klamath Watershed Council: Welcomes and Introduction - The Birth of Fire Suppression
- Bill Tripp, Eco-Cultural Restoration Specialist, Karuk Tribe: An Integrated Approach to Adaptive Problem Solving
- Carl Skinner, Geographer, USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station: Climate Change and Fire: What Might We Expect?
- Morgan Varner, Associate Professor at Humboldt State University: Shifting Fuels in Northwestern California Ecosystems
Wednesday, April 27th
Thursday, April 28th
The Mid Klamath Watershed Council hosted the Klamath Fire Ecology Symposium on April 25-27, 2008. The symposium brought together land managers, scientists, practitioners, landowners, students, and anyone with an interest in understanding fire's role in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains.
The symposium focused on several case studies particular to the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains involving prescribed burning, recent wildfires, wildland fire use, appropriate management response and current research in the area. The eventual goal of this conference is to create a vision for getting fire on the landscape in a way that protects life, property, improves forest health, and enhances resources. The presentations from the symposium are now available in pdf format below.
Friday, April 25th
Saturday, April 26th
Sunday, April 27th
Ben Riggan, Landowner/Restorationist.
Laverne Glaze, Karuk Indigenous Basketweavers. Local/Cultural Perspectives on Prescribed Burning for Multiple Resource Objectives
For more information contact MKWC in Orleans, CA at 530 627 3202