Management applications of the LANDFIRE BPS models in the California National Forests

The LANDFIRE Applications Webinar Series (Part 3) continues with Hugh Safford! This webinar will discuss the applications of LANDFIRE with a specific focus on management. 

State and transition (S&T) models are aspatial, nonequilibrium simulations that incorporate multiple ecosystem states linked by pathways representing deterministic (e.g., growth) and probabilistic (e.g., disturbance) transitions. The LANDFIRE program incentivized a major expansion in the use of S&T simulations in federal lands management, through the development of the Biophysical Settings (BpS) models which provided the reference conditions for Fire Regime Condition Class (FRCC) assessment. The usefulness of the BpS models goes far beyond FRCC however. These types of S&T models can be extremely useful in better understanding the complex inner-workings of successional and disturbance processes, as well as in generating reference conditions for ecosystem management. I will begin by outlining the process of developing state-and-transition models for successional and fire dynamics of major forest types of the Sierra Nevada, and discuss how these were adapted into BpS models for the LANDFIRE program. The major focus of my presentation will be management applications – and limitations – of the LANDFIRE BpS models. Examples will include desired forest conditions for Forest Plans and large landscape restoration projects; developing vegetation structure targets for fire and fuels management; and spatial extensions of the BpS models to develop historic range of variation (HRV) assessments for large management landscapes.  

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About the presenter:

Hugh Safford is the Regional Ecologist for the USDA-Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region (California, Hawaii, Pacific territories), and also holds a research position in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California-Davis. Safford manages a staff of ecologists that provide expertise in vegetation, fire, and restoration ecology, climate change, inventory, and monitoring to land management and planning efforts on the National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region. His areas of professional expertise are restoration ecology, community ecology, biogeography, and disturbance ecology. Safford is the manager of the Regional Research Natural Area program, the Sierra Nevada region leader for the California Fire Science Delivery Consortium, and a member of the science advisory boards for a number of environmental collaboratives and NGOs. Safford also works internationally, and provides technical assistance on fire, forest management, and climate change issues to the US-Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Program of the Forest Service. Safford was an editor of Historical Environmental Variation in Conservation and Natural Resource Management, a recently published book exploring the challenges of applying historical reference conditions to the sustainable management of ecosystems in a rapidly changing world. Safford holds a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, an M.A. in Secondary Education from San Francisco State University, and a B.S. in Geology from Montana State University. Safford grew up in southwestern Montana and now splits his time between Davis and Lake Tahoe, California.