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ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT OF THE GREAT BASIN REGION OF THE U.S., Rang Narayanan, Elwood Miller, Stan Johnson, Bob Conrad, University of Nevada, Reno. The 8th International Symposium
“Prospects for The Third Millennium Agriculture”
Cluj-Napoca, Romania
October 7-10, 2009

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  1. 1. WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES The 8 th International Symposium “ Prospects for The Third Millennium Agriculture” Cluj-Napoca, Romania October 7-10, 2009 ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT OF THE GREAT BASIN REGION OF THE U.S. Rang Narayanan, Elwood Miller, Stan Johnson, Bob Conrad University of Nevada, Reno
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION: Altered Fire Regimes Frequent, low intensity burns that ensure diverse resilient fire-adapted plan communities Large, catastrophic high-intensity burns with greater frequency WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  4. 4. Wildfires in the United States: 1980-2003 (>250 acres) Source: USGS
  5. 5. Source: National Interagency Fire Center
  7. 7. Great Basin Landscape <ul><li>Coniferous Forests at High Elevations  </li></ul><ul><li>Piñon-Juniper Woodland/Mountain Big Sage Brush (high-mid elevations) </li></ul><ul><li>Wyoming Big Sage Brush/Perennial Grass (mid-lower elevations) </li></ul><ul><li>Salt Desert Shrub (lower elevations) </li></ul>History WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  8. 8. History <ul><li>Ranching operations and grazing in 1860s: introduction of cattle, sheep and horses </li></ul><ul><li>Exotic plant species at the end of the 1800s: expansion of cheatgrass </li></ul><ul><li>Intense fire suppression efforts early 1900s: protection of lives, property and communities. </li></ul><ul><li>Global climatic change: increased CO2, water supply regime, temperature </li></ul>Major External Events Altering Fire Regimes WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  9. 9. Nevada Wildland Acres Burned by Decade “ Nevada burned more acres in the decade of the 1990s than in the previous 40 years combined and the trend continues.” 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 1,000,000 6,000,000 5,000,000 4,000,000 3,000,000 2,000,000 Acres Burned ?
  10. 10. Symptoms & Causes of Altered Fire Regimes <ul><li>Spread of Exotic Invasive Plants/Noxious Weeds </li></ul><ul><li>Monoculture, highly flammable annual grasses </li></ul><ul><li>Expanded Piñon-Juniper Woodlands </li></ul><ul><li>Sparse understory of perennial grasses and forbs </li></ul><ul><li>Decline in Sagebrush/Perennial Grasses </li></ul><ul><li>Degradation of Riparian Ecosystem </li></ul><ul><li>Soil Erosion </li></ul><ul><li>Changes in Water Supply </li></ul>WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  11. 11. Scientist Contributions June 1973 WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  12. 12. Scientist Contributions June 2007 WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  13. 13. Scientist Contributions WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  14. 14. Methods & Materials Wildfire Forum WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  15. 15. Methods & Materials Publication WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  16. 16. Methods & Materials Scientists WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  17. 17. Recommendations <ul><li>Rangeland Revegetation & Rehabilitation </li></ul><ul><li>Fire Prevention & Fuels Management </li></ul><ul><li>Economic Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Public Involvement & Partnerships </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptive & Flexible Management </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>Education, Research & Development </li></ul>WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  18. 18. Recommendations <ul><li>Rangeland Revegetation & Rehabilitation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Post-fire rehabilitation  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Utilize non-native species </li></ul></ul><ul><li>3. Targeted grazing </li></ul><ul><li>4. Control weeds and cycling nutrients </li></ul>WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  19. 19. Recommendations <ul><li>Fire Prevention & Fuels Management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Manage invasive annual grasses as forage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Greater flexibility in grazing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fuel breaks and prescribed fires </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Housing development ordinances for fire-safe practices </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increase community participation </li></ul></ul>WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  20. 20. Recommendations <ul><li>Economic Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Vegetation and fuel loads </li></ul><ul><li>Wildlife habitat and population </li></ul><ul><li>Effects of rehabilitation and range improvement projects </li></ul>WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  21. 21. Recommendations <ul><li>Research, Education & Public Policy </li></ul><ul><li>Methods of evaluating wildfire impacts including non-market techniques </li></ul><ul><li>Allocation of resources between fire prevention and fire suppression efforts </li></ul><ul><li>Methods to supress cheatgrass by perennial grasses </li></ul><ul><li>Methods to inhibit establishment and dominace of cheatgrass </li></ul>WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES
  22. 22. Future Directions <ul><li>Implement scientists’ recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>Develop a comprehensive institutional framework </li></ul><ul><li>Foster university, government and public partnership </li></ul><ul><li>Obtain funding for the Great Basin Environmental Program </li></ul><ul><li>Allocate funding between fire prevention and suppression activities </li></ul><ul><li>Continue additional research and on-the-ground work </li></ul>WILDFIRES & INVASIVE SPECIES