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Southern Rockies Fire Science Network

Select Bibliography:

Kocher, S., E. Toman, S. Trainor, V. Wright, J. Briggs, C. Goebel, E. MontBlanc, A. Oxarat, D. Pepin, T. Steelman, A. Thode, and T. Waldrop. 2012. How can we span the boundaries between wildland fire science and management in the United States? Journal of Forestry 110(8)421-428.

Cole, C.J., E.L. Lile and J.S. Briggs. 2009. Hazards management in Grand County, CO- Fire Fuels Characterization. USGS Fact Sheet 2008-3078

Ecosystem Disturbance in Colorado Front Range Forests

Lodgepole and ponderosa pines fading after being killed by mountain pine beetle, Rocky Mountain National Park, Fall 2010. Photo: Dan West
Lodgepole and ponderosa pines fading after being killed by mountain pine
beetle, Rocky Mountain National Park, Fall 2010. Photo: Dan West
Forests in the Front Range of Colorado provide essential ecosystem services and resources to a majority of the state’s residents and visitors, as well as representing important ecological habitat. However, these forests have been affected by increasingly severe and frequent disturbances in the past decade - notably wildfire and insect epidemics. We are conducting 2 studies across multiple agencies’ lands to evaluate the consequences of these disturbances and assess the effectiveness of diverse management strategies designed to address them. The first study (Task 1) was initiated in 2009 and has examined the dynamics of the mountain pine beetle (MPB) epidemic in both lodgepole pine forests (high elevations) and ponderosa pine forests (below 8000 feet). In partnership with Rocky Mountain National Park, the US Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, Boulder County Parks and Open Space, and several other agencies, we have measured MPB impacts for 3 years at 80+ sites along the Front Range to a) examine whether different forest types and/or past forest management practices are associated with increased resilience to MPB and b) evaluate the consequences of the MPB-induced mortality for fire hazard and forest regeneration over time. In the second study (Task 2), we are working at lower elevations in the Front Range, not yet impacted by MPB, to evaluate how recent and future forest treatments implemented with specific ecological restoration objectives actually affect forest structure, processes and biodiversity. The Front Range is one of 18 landscapes in the US to be awarded restoration funding by the US Forest Service’s recently initiated Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP). With a supplemental grant from the Southern Rockies Landscape Conservation Cooperative (SRLCC), we initiated a collaborative, multi-stakeholder monitoring effort in 2011 that uses a before-after control-impact (BACI) design to assess how these treatments affect wildlife, understory plant communities, forest structural heterogeneity, and fire hazard. We work actively with our partner agencies in both studies to ensure that our results can inform decision-making and contribute to the adaptive management process.

Principal Investigator: Jenny Briggs, jsbriggs@usgs.gov, Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, Denver, CO

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