Blazing the way on wildland fire research

The Wilderness Society is working to change our nation’s old approach to fire management. Protecting communities from fire is paramount, but effective policies on fire management should focus on protecting communities, while restoring ecosystems, and sustaining fire’s role in fire-dependent landscapes, where safe to do so.

Wilderness Society scientists, with partners from various agencies and academic institutions, are blazing new trails in wildland fire research. This science research guides our on-the-ground education and policy advocacy. More than that, the work contributes to the greater scientific community’s understanding of the role of wildfire in ecosystems. Below you’ll find just a few examples of our latest contributions:

Protecting Communities

People love living in forest communities. They love having trees, wildlife, and recreational opportunities accessible from their own back doors. However, wildlands and fire come hand and hand. In order to protect the community, fire managers need to know exactly where wildlands and communities come into contact. TWS research focuses on pinpointing the location of these critical areas by using geographic information systems (GIS) and fine tuning this process.

Forest Restoration

Fire restoration project in California. Courtesy USFS.Activities such as logging, grazing, road-building and fire suppression change the composition of the forest. Early this year, our researchers published a report that argues that this very history of land management activity should be taken into consideration along with the ecology of the forest when planning to alter fuel loads or prescribe restoration treatments. Specifically, “Restoration of Low-Elevation Dry Forests in of the Northern Rocky Mountains,” argues that a restoration model based on the ecology of a southwestern forest is not appropriate to be used throughout the West.

With limited governmental funding and resources, we also need to be able to identify the most appropriate areas for forest and fire restoration to get the biggest bang for our buck. TWS scientists developed a systematic and transparent approach to prioritizing restoration activities.

Learn more about our fire-related research here.

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Firefighter participating in fire restoration project. Courtesy NPS.
Fire restoration project in California. Courtesy USFS.