Date of this Version
Fire Science Brief, Issue 128, February 2011
Resource managers of lands harboring sensitive aquatic species face tough choices. They could manage forests to reduce their wildfire potential, while possibly harming the sensitive species habitat, or they could leave forests untreated for wildfire, risking an uncharacteristic fire that may drastically alter critical aquatic species habitat. This study sought to develop a decision support framework to help managers understand the potential impacts of fire and resulting disturbances, such as debris flows, in this puzzle. The resulting fish population persistence model, Integrating Forests, Fish, and Fire (IF3), relies on existing geographic information system (GIS) data to discern where human impacts and prefi re management activities are likely to affect stream habitat and sensitive stream fishes. The researchers applied the model to several fire-prone forests (Boise and Sawtooth National Forests in Idaho and Gila Wilderness in New Mexico) containing habitat for sensitive fishes. The model can identify areas where prefi re management treatments are likely to make fish populations more resilient to disturbance from wildfire. The model can prioritize areas for prefire management based on likely net ecosystem benefits. IF3 can be used on its own or with existing decision-support tools, such as the Fire Effects Planning Framework (FEPF).