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Jessica R. Haas

Another day at the office


800 East Beckwith
Missoula, MT 59801
Contact Jessica R. Haas

Current Research

My current research focuses on the development of decision support tools for analyzing risk of hazards to human communities and watersheds. My work is focused on three primary research areas: 1) Assessing the temporal trajectories of wildfire risk profiles. 2) The integration of models to perform multi-hazard assessments, in particular wildfire and post wildfire debris flow impacts on water quality and 3) Integrating wildfire risk assessments into the National Forest Planning process.

Research Interests

My research interests are focused on the ecological and social implications of extreme hazard events, in particular as it pertains to economic impacts on human communities and water quality. My current research is focused on using quantitative spatial techniques and computer programming to develop various risk assessment and mitigation tools


  • University of Montana, Ph.D. Candidate, Forestry, 2013
  • University of Montana, M.S., Resource Conservation, 2010
  • University at Albany, B.A., Anthropology & Psychology, 2003
  • Professional Experience

    Ecologist, Rocky Mountain Research Station
    2015 to present

    Data Services Specialist, US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
    2010 to 2015

    GIS Specialist and Cartographer, Private Consultant, Big Sky Planning
    2005 to 2011

    Graduate Research Assistant, NTSG, University of Montana
    2008 to 2010

    Archaeologist and spatial analyst, Private Consultant, Landmark Archaeology, Interesources Planning, BLM, US Forest Service,
    2000 to 2006

    Featured Publications


    Latif, Quresh; Saab, Victoria A.; Haas, Jessica R.; Dudley, Jonathan G., 2018. FIRE-BIRD: A GIS-based toolset for applying habitat suitability models to inform land management planning
    Wei, Yu; Thompson, Matthew P.; Haas, Jessica R.; Dillon, Gregory K.; O'Connor, Christopher D., 2018. Spatial optimization of operationally relevant large fire confine and point protection strategies: Model development and test cases
    Thompson, Matthew P.; Riley, Karin; Loeffler, Dan; Haas, Jessica R., 2017. Modeling fuel treatment leverage: Encounter rates, risk reduction, and suppression cost impacts
    Chambers, Jeanne C.; Beck, J.L.; Bradford, J.B.; Bybee, J.; Campbell, S.; Carlson, J.; Christiansen, T.J.; Clause, K.J.; Collins, G.; Crist, M.R.; Dinkins, J.B.; Doherty, K.E.; Edwards, F.; Espinosa, S.; Griffin, K.A.; Griffin, P.; Haas, Jessica R.; Hanser, S.E.; Havlina, D.W.; Henke, K.F.; Hennig, J.D.; Joyce, Linda A.; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Kulpa, S.M.; Kurth, L.L.; Maestas, J.D.; Manning, M.; Mayer, K.E.; Mealor, B.A.; McCarthy, C.; Pellant, M.; Perea, M.A.; Prentice, K.L.; Pyke, D.A.; Wiechman, L.A.; Wuenschel, A., 2017. Science framework for conservation and restoration of the sagebrush biome: Linking the Department of the Interior’s Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy to long-term strategic conservation actions
    Thompson, Matthew P.; Bowden, Phil; Brough, April; Scott, Joe H.; Gilbertson-Day, Julie; Taylor, Alan; Anderson, Jennifer; Haas, Jessica R., 2016. Application of wildfire risk assessment results to wildfire response planning in the southern Sierra Nevada, California, USA
    Thompson, Matthew P.; Haas, Jessica R.; Gilbertson-Day, Julie W.; Scott, Joe H.; Langowski, Paul; Bowne, Elise; Calkin, Dave E., 2015. Development and application of a geospatial wildfire exposure and risk calculation tool
    Thompson, Matthew P.; Haas, Jessica R.; Finney, Mark A.; Calkin, Dave E.; Hand, Michael; Browne, Mark J.; Halek, Martin; Short, Karen C.; Grenfell, Isaac C., 2015. Development and application of a probabilistic method for wildfire suppression cost modeling
    Hansen, Andrew J.; Piekielek, Nathan; Davis, Cory; Haas, Jessica R.; Theobald, David M.; Gross, John E.; Monahan, William B.; Olliff, Tom; Running, Steven W., 2014. Exposure of U.S. National Parks to land use and climate change 1900-2100
    Tillery, Anne C.; Haas, Jessica R.; Miller, Lara W.; Scott, Joe H.; Thompson, Matthew P., 2014. Potential postwildfire debris-flow hazards - a prewildfire evaluation for the Sandia and Manzano Mountains and surrounding areas, central New Mexico
    Thompson, Matthew P.; Scott, Joe; Langowski, Paul G.; Gilbertson-Day, Julie W.; Haas, Jessica R.; Bowne, Elise M., 2013. Assessing watershed-wildfire risks on National Forest System lands in the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States
    Thompson, Matthew P.; Vaillant, Nicole M.; Haas, Jessica R.; Gebert, Krista M.; Stockmann, Keith D., 2013. Quantifying the potential impacts of fuel treatments on wildfire suppression costs
    Photograph from on top of a hill looking down on a landscape of dead and dying trees. Green vegetation in the foreground, blue skies with big white clouds in the background.
    To conserve and promote biological diversity, land managers must identify suitable habitat for species of conservation concern. Managers can then restrict potentially detrimental activities (e.g., salvage logging) to areas of lower habitat suitability, and target beneficial activities (e.g., restoration) where habitat suitability is higher. We developed FIRE-BIRD, an ArcGIS tool, to map habitat suitability for disturbance-associated woodpeckers of conservation concern to inform postfire management and restoration treatments in dry mixed-conifer forests. 
    Photo: LEWIS WOOD BERRIESem.jpg; caption – Lewis’s Woodpecker most frequently nests in relatively open, recently burned forests with large diameter snags.
    Increases in forest fires are expected with future changes in climate, allowing more opportunities for post-fire salvage logging. Forest managers are challenged with implementing post-fire management policies while concurrently meeting the requirements of existing laws and planning documents to maintain habitat for wildlife species associated with snags. Design criteria for post-fire salvage logging is needed to concurrently manage for economic benefits and wildlife habitat.
    Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists affiliated with the National Fire Decision Support Center worked closely with the Agency's Western and Eastern Threat Centers to develop novel methods to assess wildfire risk to communities, watersheds, and wildlife habitat, and to developed, natural, and cultural resources.  
    Using structured decision making (SDM) can change how resource managers make decisions by separating the clinical problem analysis from the value based decision process. In a natural resource management setting, SDM necessitates making decisions based on clearly articulated objectives, recognizing scientific prediction in decisions, addressing uncertainty explicitly, and responding with transparency towards societal values in decision making. When used as an overarching framework, natural resource managers can be better equipped to identify, critique, and discuss sources and implications of uncertainty and thus improve decision-making.
    The nexus of fuels management and suppression response planning integrates pre-season actions with wildland fire incident response.
    Large wildfires are inherently more complex; often affecting multiple jurisdictions and requiring a balance of strategic long-term planning and nimble tactical solutions to meet dynamic conditions on the ground. With this increase in complexity comes increased uncertainty.
    District and Forest Fire staff recently met with local cooperators and resource specialists to develop maps of potential control lines that they could use while managing a fire. Maps of control lines and potential operational delineations (PODs) are being developed for the entire Forest with the assistance of researchers from USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station and the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute.
    In 2015, analysts with Fire Modeling Institute (FMI) continued to be involved with application of a wildfire risk assessment framework developed largely by RMRS scientists from both the Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program and the Human Dimensions Program. The risk assessment framework is useful for multiple reasons: it provides a means to assess the potential risk posed by wildfire to specific highly valued resources and assets (HVRAs) across large landscapes, and it also provides a scientifically-based foundation for fire managers to think strategically and proactively about how to best manage fire and fuels on their landscapes in a way that integrates with broader land and resource management goals.  
    Effective and efficient risk based management requires integrated knowledge, systems and planning tools that explore the interaction of the full range of land and fire management activities. The Wildfire Risk Management Team is working with managers to develop and demonstrate the power of integrating fire-risk science across the full range of fire management activities from local to national scales. Improved linkages between landscape fire potential and land management objectives will have profound effects on the efficiency of the full range of fire management activities. 
    Although wildfires are inevitable, the destruction of homes, ecosystems, and lives is not. How can land management agencies, first responders, and affected communities who face the inevitability of wildfires reduce the potential for loss? Decision science and risk management are key principles in the effort to lower wildfire risks. In concert with the spatial risk assessment framework, the Wildfire Risk Management Team is exploring how principles of risk management, and resiliency and structured decision making can be applied to improve the effectiveness and safety of fire management.
    Effective and efficient risk-based management requires integrated knowledge, systems and planning tools that explore the interaction of the full range of land and fire management activities. The Wildfire Risk Management team is working to develop and demonstrate the power of integrating fire-risk science across the full range of fire management activities. This work will include the first pilot study of changes in wildfire risk across time, using the prototype LANDFIRE time series dataset, created specifically for the study landscape.
    The Wildfire Risk Management Team is an interdisciplinary team that explores wildfire management through the lenses of risk analysis, economics, decision science, and landscape ecology to improve the scientific basis for the full range of wildfire management decisions. Primary research topics include integrated spatial risk assessment modeling and planning, econometric modeling of fire management expenditures, effectiveness of suppression resource utilization, organizational structure and managerial incentive systems, and performance measurement.

    National Priority Research Areas: 
    Climate Change
    RMRS Science Program Areas: 
    Human Dimensions