The following letter was written by a group of more than 40 fire and forest scientists led by The University of New Mexico’s Matt Hurteau, a professor in the Department of Biology. It addresses concerns with a recent decision over new directives aimed at requiring Planning Level 2 and Regional Forester approval for prescribed burns. The blanket national policy is focused on reducing short-term risks but does not account for the fact that national forests and grasslands in the United States cover a large geographic area that experiences a wide variety of climatic conditions.Continue Reading
An update to a USFS data publication contains a spatial database of wildfires that occurred in the United States from 1992 to 2018. It is the fourth update of a publication originally generated to support the national Fire Program Analysis (FPA) system.Continue Reading
The EPA AirNOW Fire and Smoke Map has been updated with a new interactive dashboard and additional features. For more information see the following press release from the EPA.
EPA, Forest Service Release Improved Tools to Equip the Public with Information and Resources on Wildfire Smoke
WASHINGTON (July 19, 2021) — As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to improve wildfire preparedness, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service have released updates to the popular AirNow Fire and Smoke Map to help protect communities across the country from the devastating impacts of wildfire smoke.
“Smoke from increasingly frequent, intense and widespread wildfires in the West is a significant public health threat, and EPA is committed to keeping people safe,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The updated Fire and Smoke Map harnesses the power of data and technology to help confront this challenge head on. The updated map provides additional tools to help communities near the front lines better understand their risks from wildfire smoke and the actions they can take to protect their health during wildfire events.”
EPA and the Forest Service launched the Fire and Smoke Map as a pilot in 2020 to provide the public information on fire locations, smoke plumes and air quality all in one place. The map quickly became a key wildfire smoke information source for the public, with more than 7.4 million views in the map’s first three months.
To give users the most localized air quality information possible, the Fire and Smoke Map pulls data from monitors that regularly report to AirNow, temporary monitors such as those the Forest Service and air agencies have deployed near fires, and crowd-sourced data from nearly 10,000 low-cost sensors that measure fine particle pollution, the major harmful pollutant in smoke. The map also provides easy access to smoke forecast outlooks, which the Forest Service provides when Air Resource Advisors have been deployed to wildland fires.
For 2021, the two agencies have made several improvements to the map based on feedback from state and local air agencies, Tribes, and members of the public. The updates include a “dashboard” that map users will see by clicking on a monitor or sensor. The dashboard gives users quick access to key information that can help them plan their activities: the current Air Quality Index (AQI) category at the monitor/sensor location; information showing whether air quality is getting better or worse; and information about actions to consider taking, based on the current AQI.
The updated Fire and Smoke Map also is more “mobile friendly” for people who visit the AirNow.gov website from a smartphone or tablet. The map will be available as part of the AirNow app in app stores in the coming weeks.
Visit the Fire and Smoke Map at https://fire.airnow.gov/
With the impending centennial of formal Forest Service R&D approaching, the Southern Research Station would like to document as much of its history as possible.
Therefore, SRS is looking for people to contribute articles and images related to the history of the South’s forest experiment stations over the decades. They hope to assemble several collections of historical photographs, maps, blueprints, line drawings, and other documents that will be made permanently available through the Forest Service Research Data Archive as well as some other outputs.
Those interested in helping out—and these can include current and former SRS employees, National Forest System staff, university partners, outside collaborators, or any other knowledgeable persons—are asked to contact Dr. Don C. Bragg with their thoughts and suggestions.Continue Reading
In response to the new administration’s focus on climate change, Forest Service R&D produced Research Improves Climate-smart Management of America’s Forests and Grasslands, a special report that highlights the agency’s contributions to climate science and land management.Continue Reading
This webinar will provide examples of successful cross-cultural partnerships for managing fire and building community resilience in a changing climate. In this webinar, USFS fire ecologist and tribal liaison Monique Wynecoop will share two case studies from the Colville National Forest, in which the Spokane and Colville Tribes and non-tribal partners conducted collaborative, interdisciplinary fire management projects that incorporated diverse values, cultures and knowledges to meet multiple fire management goals. Monique will share lessons learned for building trust with tribal communities and conducting collaborative fire management through a restorative justice lens with tribes as beneficiaries.Continue Reading