Jerry F. Franklin - Restoring frequent-fire forests and landscapes
A broad scientific consensus now exists regarding the urgent need for massive efforts to restore resiliency to western forests and landscapes that were historically characterized by the occurrence of frequent, low to mixed-severity wildfire. Important elements of this consensus include the need to focus on restoring ecosystem processes rather than on fuels and strategic fuel breaks, planning and implementing activities at larger spatial scales, incorporating more natural and prescribed fire into plans, and prioritizing areas where greater natural resource values are at risk. Although restoration treatments need to focus on desired future conditions, rather than past conditions, recent historic research is making it increasingly clear that conditions in most western pine and mixed-conifer forests are far outside of their historic range of variability and that natural resource values (such as old tree populations) are often most at risk in mixed-conifer forests. Collaborative groups are proving critical in moving restoration programs forward, engaging and often empowering agency personnel in these activities. These collaborative groups need to be embraced by agencies and participate in all aspects of the restoration programs on public lands including critical elements of adaptive management – design and implementation of monitoring programs and interpretation of monitoring data, including appropriate adaptive changes to management and monitoring programs. In the 20th century collaborative groups may represent the most important interface between the American public and federal land management agencies.