F&ES 672b / 2017-2018

Fire Ecology and Management

Credits: 1

Spring 2018: Th, 10:00-12:00, Marsh Classroom

Fire presents numerous large-scale challenges. In the U.S. alone, wildfire management costs in excess of $2 billion each year; more than 50% of the entire US Forest Service budget. In the last 5 years more than 100 million trees have died in California from a combination of drought, fire suppression, and bark beetle damage, and thousands of structures in the wildland urban interface have been destroyed. The situation is similar in other parts of the world: from fighting wildfires in palm oil plantations in Indonesia, to the recent increase in fatal wildfires in Portugal, fire is a critical component of ecosystem management. As the climate continues to change, the impacts of fire are likely to become more severe and less predictable. Thoughtful policies that incentivise proactive management, can reduce the likelihood of catastrophic fires and their impact on society.
This seminar provides an introduction to fire science, policy, and management. We begin by focusing on the environmental drivers of wildland fire—fuels, weather, and topography—and discussing how each interacts to regulate fire intensity and severity. From there, we explore wildland firefighting and prescribed burning operations, and fire policy in the United States. Students are strongly encouraged to particpate in three field trips. A tour of a fire adapted ecosystem will be offered midway through the semester, students are welcomed to participate in a prescribed burn at the Yale Myers Forest in the late spring, and 3-day classroom and field traing will be hosted by the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore Oklahoma. This student driven course is organized and led by Kristofer Covey, along with the staff of School Forests Office and the Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative. Guest speakers will present at each class meeting either in person or via video conference.