Climate Change and Wildland Fire

    Climate Change and Wildland Fire

     

     

    J. Bradley Washa, Utah BLM State Fuels Specialist, DOI Bureau of Land Management, Utah State Office, Salt Lake City, Utah. bwasha@blm.gov

    The impacts of climate change upon disturbance are demonstrated in numerous ways through wildland fire.
    The length of fire seasons have been extended, with snow packs melting earlier in the spring and wildfires continuing well into autumn under warmer and drier environments. Forest health issues from insect and disease infestations to increased fuel loadings are being exasperated by climate change. Invasive species have further increased and expanded across large parts of the west. These conditions impact the severity and number of
    acres burned on a landscape and regional level. Several recent wildfires and prescribed fires from Utah, along with associated weather data, will be reviewed to demonstrate the impacts of climate change on the wildland fire environment. Understanding the changing environment and management response to wildland fire disturbance is important in implementing management actions by land management agencies in restoring and maintaining resilient landscapes.

    Brad’s initial interest in fire management began at Mesa Verde National Park on the helitack crew in 1989, continuing as an Engine Foreman and acting Zone Assistant Fire Management Officer on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest, Fire Management Specialist with The Nature Conservancy, various fire positions on the Cibola National Forest, and Fire and Fuels Management Specialist with the Bureau of Land Management on the Medford District. In April 2004, Brad became the Utah BLM State Fuels Specialist. Brad has completed several details: BLM’s National Fuels Specialists at the National Interagency Fire Center, National Fuels Coordinator for the DOI Office of Wildland Fire in Washington, DC, Salt Lake Field Office Manager, and BLM Fire Planning and Fuels Management Division Chief at NIFC.