Western North America is occupied by several woodpecker species that are strongly associated with recently disturbed forests, including post-wildfire and post-beetle outbreaks. These types of landscapes are favored habitat because the dead and dying trees provide nesting and foraging substrates. When managing these landscapes, managers must balance providing habitat for woodpecker species of conservation concern with conducting salvage logging operations that generate economic revenue for local communities. Increases in size and severity of wildfire and insect outbreaks are expected to continue with climate change, allowing more opportunities for post-disturbance salvage logging and forest restoration activities. We developed FIRE-BIRD, a GIS tool to help managers make the best decisions for maintaining habitat of key wildlife species, while still allowing economic benefits to local communities.
Habitat suitability models can inform forest management for wildlife species of conservation concern. Models quantify relationships between known species locations and environmental attributes, which are used to identify areas most likely to support species of concern. Managers can then limit negative human impacts in areas of high suitability or conduct habitat improvements in areas of marginal suitability. We developed FIRE-BIRD, an ArcGIS toolbox, to map habitat suitability for disturbance-associated woodpeckers of conservation concern to help inform locations for management activities in predominantly burned forests of the Inland Northwest and Northern Sierras. The suite of species currently included (black-backed [Picoides arcticus], white-headed [Dryobates albolvartus], Lewis’s [Melanerpes lewis], and hairy [D. villosus] woodpeckers) makes the GIS tool best suited for postfire management and restoration treatments in dry mixed-conifer forests.