Title

Fire Regime Dynamics of Fish Lake, Blue Mountains, Oregon

Presenter Information

Chris Goodner

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom B/C/D

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Fire Regime, Macroscopic Charcoal Analysis, Climate Change

Abstract

Fire has been a key process in shaping the forests of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) throughout the Holocene (the past ~12,000 years). However, in recent centuries, anthropogenic climate change and land-use actions (e.g., fire suppression) have severely disrupted pre-Euro-American settlement fire regimes, leading to the risk of catastrophic wildfires in many forests. Federal agencies are interested in using prescribed fire to restore historic forest mosaics and to reduce the risk of these conflagrations; however, there is a lack of fire history data from many areas in the PNW that spans more than a couple hundred years, including the Blue Mountains of Oregon. This study is reconstructing the fire history of the Fish Lake watershed in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest of the Blue Mountains using macroscopic charcoal analysis of a lake sediment core. The purpose of this research is to determine how fire regimes have changed at the site during the past ~12,000 years with respect to past climate variability. Fish Lake is located at an elevation of 2,030 m and exists among trees with low fire return intervals, primarily lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa). Preliminary results indicate that infrequent high-severity fires have historically dominated the region. Our findings also suggest these fires have become more common in the last few hundred years. It is our hope that the information from this study can be used by forest managers to determine how fire activity may change in the future due to climate change.

Poster Number

35

Faculty Mentor(s)

Megan Walsh

Department/Program

Resource Management

Additional Mentoring Department

Resource Management

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May 21st, 11:30 AM May 21st, 2:00 PM

Fire Regime Dynamics of Fish Lake, Blue Mountains, Oregon

SURC Ballroom B/C/D

Fire has been a key process in shaping the forests of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) throughout the Holocene (the past ~12,000 years). However, in recent centuries, anthropogenic climate change and land-use actions (e.g., fire suppression) have severely disrupted pre-Euro-American settlement fire regimes, leading to the risk of catastrophic wildfires in many forests. Federal agencies are interested in using prescribed fire to restore historic forest mosaics and to reduce the risk of these conflagrations; however, there is a lack of fire history data from many areas in the PNW that spans more than a couple hundred years, including the Blue Mountains of Oregon. This study is reconstructing the fire history of the Fish Lake watershed in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest of the Blue Mountains using macroscopic charcoal analysis of a lake sediment core. The purpose of this research is to determine how fire regimes have changed at the site during the past ~12,000 years with respect to past climate variability. Fish Lake is located at an elevation of 2,030 m and exists among trees with low fire return intervals, primarily lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa). Preliminary results indicate that infrequent high-severity fires have historically dominated the region. Our findings also suggest these fires have become more common in the last few hundred years. It is our hope that the information from this study can be used by forest managers to determine how fire activity may change in the future due to climate change.