You are here

After Fire: Toolkit for the Southwest

Abstract

Wildfires are an important natural disturbance in southwestern ecosystems, but burn areas may be subject to hazardous post-fire erosion and flooding. There are numerous existing science and management tools for mitigating these hazards, but they are not always accessible to the communities and private landowners who need them. This toolkit compiles information on post-fire resources for southwestern communities in a centralized, accessible format. 

Purpose

This online toolkit provides information on several existing post-fire resources to increase the capacity of individuals, communities, private landowners, and other resource managers to implement management actions to reduce risks associated with these post-fire hazards.

Overview and Applicability

A backhoe partially buried by a debris flow after the Schultz fire on the Coconino National Forest in Arizona.
A backhoe partially buried by a debris flow after the Schultz fire on the Coconino National Forest in Arizona. Credit goes to: Anna Jaramillio-Scarborough
Wildfires, an important natural disturbance in southwestern ecosystems, can present challenges to resource managers, communities, and private landowners when they burn areas subject to post-fire flooding and erosion. It is important for these groups to respond rapidly to threats from post-fire events to reduce impacts and loss. Many government agencies and research institutions have developed science and management tools for estimating post-fire effects and mitigating risks in burned landscapes. However, after wildfire, many non-federal landowners and managers also need to manage and reduce risk on their lands.

RMRS investigators assessed the utility of currently available tools and resources for application on non-federal lands and by non-federal user groups. Tools were evaluated based on three critical factors related to accessbiility: required inputs, required equipment, and availability of guidance. Each criterion was scored, and overall scores for each tool were summed across all three metrics. In addition, information on four supplemental characteristics was considered: geographic scope, landscape scale at which the tool operates, whether tools use curve numbers, and whether the tool is capable of estimating treatment effects. 

A resulting online toolkit (https://postfiresw.info/) provides information on several post-fire resources, including these analysis tools, guidance for risk assessment and treatment selection, web resources, training, and contacts to increase the capacity of individuals, communities, private landowners, and other resource managers to learn about, plan for, and implement post-fire management actions to reduce risks associated with erosion and flooding.

Venn diagram. Output types of 22 tools used by Burned Area Emergency Response Teams to mitigate risk on federally managed lands.
Output types of tools used to mitigate risk on federally managed lands.



Authors: 

Co-Investigators:
Anna Jaramillo-Scarborough - U.S. Forest Service Southwestern Region

Collaborators:
Anne Bradley - The Nature Conservancy
Emile Elias - USDA Southwest Climate Hub
Ericha Courtright - New Mexico State University
Gregg Garfin - University of Arizona
Sara LeRoy - University of Arizona