Fire-adapted forests and communities across the country

The fire season has begun! In fire-adapted forests across the country, managers are conducting controlled burns, firefighters are managing wildfires, and communities are working to mitigate fire risks. The Guild is deeply engaged in fire from several angles. A brand-new Guild research report titled Increasing wildfire awareness and reducing human-caused ignitions in Northern New Mexico, focuses on preventable wildfires. The report calls attention to the details of how and where humans start wildfires because this knowledge can be used to create more effective prevention programs. For example, in the Southwest, abandoned campfires account for 44% of the human-caused wildfires since 2001. Another surprising factor is the impact of wildfires caused by powerlines. In New Mexico, three major wildfires in the last decade were all caused by electrical lines, including the Las Conchas fire, which cost more than one billion dollars.

Zander Evans presented the report at the New Mexico Wildland Urban Fire Summit. Other Guild staff presented at the conference: Sam Berry talked about prescribed fire training exchanges, Matt Piccarello introduced the Fire Adapted Communities New Mexico Learning Network, and Eytan Krasilovsky and Esmé Cadiente helped organize a field trip to share learning from the Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition. The Guild has helped the Greater Santa Fe Fireshed Coalition answer the community's questions about fire and forests in a public seminar series and with fact sheets on Demystifying NEPA and Tree Rings and Fire History

The Guild’s efforts to restore fire adapted ecosystems and foster fire adapted communities aren’t limited to the Southwest. Amanda Mahaffey, Northeast Region Director, worked with the North Atlantic Fire Science Exchange to raise the profile of controlled burning in New Jersey’s pinelands by connecting students from Idaho and Arizona to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. Amanda is also bringing together Fire Adapted Communities partners from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and Long Island to share learning about common issues in the human communities thickly settled in the fire-adapted ecosystems. On April 14, Nick Biemiller, Southeast Project Coordinator, and partners at Tennessee Wildlife Federation and The University of the South hosted a workshop for landowners in the Cumberland Plateau region on shortleaf pine restoration. Shortleaf pine depends on fire and lack of fire is one reason for a dramatic decline in this species. In Minnesota, Mike Lynch, Lakes State Project Coordinator, is featured in a new video about creating fire adapted communities.   

Our ongoing learning, and dedication to sharing information and skills regarding fire-adapted ecosystems and communities, are part of how we are putting the forest first, for the good of all.