The Lek:5:2
Newsletter of the Great Plains Fire Science Exchange
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Editor's Note


Diversity in the Great Plains

Sherry Leis poses for a photopoint shot while monitoring vegetation in the prairie at George Washington Carver National Monument.Diversity. In the realms of natural resources, diversity is often thought of as a concept or condition for which to strive. At some scale, having defined or desired levels of species diversity may support stability, resiliency, and healthy communities (Symstad and Jonas 2011, Tilman et al. 1998). Diversity may also be necessary for ecosystem services and non-biological processes.

In the realms of fire, we talk about diversity in timing of fire, ignition techniques, fire intensities, and fire frequencies. Balancing fire diversity with other management goals can be difficult. Often times, we talk about maintenance versus restoration modes and each has its own priority management actions. The restoration mode is a suite of management actions to set us up for managing diverse grasslands in (what can seem like a fabled) maintenance condition...
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Effect of liability and regulatory standards on burning


This brief, written by the Southern Fire Exchange, highlights the issue of liability and how it affects prescribed fire. The issue of liability is often cited as an information need and a barrier in the Great Plains as well as the south.  Take a look at this brief: 
Read the liability brief



Elements of traditional fire knowledge


In this paper, Mary Huffman took an anthropological approach to understanding how different cultures use fire. Read the brief: 
Read the traditional fire knowledge brief

Get to know the GP fire community


An interview with Nick Garza

Nick Garza, Senior Research Associate with Texas Agrilife, Sonora TX.
Nick Garza is a Senior Research Associate with AgriLife Research at the Sonora Research Station, Sonora Texas. We asked him about his thoughts on working fire in Texas.Here's an excerpt from our interview with him.

GPE: Please describe your professional interests and expertise related to wildland fire?

NG: My interests tend to run towards equipment design and development. I like to work with effective and economical sprayers and modifications to ATV’s to make them more suitable for prescribed burning.

GPE: How has fire science played a role in decision making at the field station and in the neighborhood?

NG: It has definitely created more interest in the neighborhood, especially since we are still largely rural and smoke is not as much of a concern. At the Research Station, it has allowed us to explore the use of livestock (cattle, sheep and especially goats) to extend the useful life of prescribed fire. That is important because this area still has strong ties to range animal agriculture.

Read on....
Read the interview

Fire Science Round-up

By Kristen Kohlhepp, Graduate Student Volunteer

Each quarter we bring you a summary of research articles that are relevant to the Great Plains fire science community.  We appreciate articles you send us to add to the list. We also draw upon compilations of citations sent out monthly by Jason Greenlee of Current Titles in Wildland Fire.  You can read the full installment of the Spring 2016 Fire Science Round-Up here.

Here's a sample from this issue:

Russell, M. L., L. T. Vermeire, A. C. Ganguli, and J. R. Hendrickson. 2015. Season of fire manipulates bud bank dynamics in northern mixed-grass prairie. Plant Ecology 216: 835-846.

Season of fire directly manipulated bud activity, dormancy, and mortality for blue grama, needle-and-thread grass, and western wheatgrass. Spring burns increased active blue grama buds and fall burns immediately activated western wheatgrass buds. Needle-and-thread grass had reduced bud numbers in all seasons.

Upcoming Events

WEBINAR: Demystifying LANDFIRE's Biophysical Settings descriptions and models in the Great Plains
WHEN: April 25, 2016, 12:00-1:00 pm CT
DETAILS: Join the meeting here. If you need to use a phone for audio: Dial: +1 415 762 9988 (US Toll) or +1 646 568 7788 (US Toll)  Meeting ID: 758 511 962  Check the conservation gateway and our website for details.
WHAT: Niobrara Valley Preserve Training Exchange (TREX)
WHEN: March 19-27, 2016
Last Call! Although the application deadline is past, we can still accept a couple more for folks with tribal affiliation.
WHERE: near Johnstown, NE
DETAILS: The GPE is sponsoring participants with tribal affiliation to attend this event. For more information contact Sherry:
Be sure to indicate your affiliation on the application.

Learn more and Register

A stand of trees on a slope overlooking the valley at the Niobrara Valley Preserve, NE.
An overlook at the Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska.

More upcoming events

WHAT: 5th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference
WHEN: April 11-15, 2016
WHERE: Portland, Oregon and Melbourne, Australia

WHATSouth Dakota Training Exchanges
WHEN: May 2-13 or 16-27, 2016 (application deadline: March 28)
WHERE: Mixed grass prairies of eastern South Dakota--Sand Lake NWR and Waubay NWR areas.
LEARN MORE: Contact Colby Crawford for an application. 
WHAT: North American Prairie Conference
WHEN: July 17-20, 2016
WHERE: Normal, IL

WHAT: Patch Burn Grazing Community of Practice annual meeting.
WHEN: August 24-26, 2016
WHERE: Childress, TX; field trip at the Matador Wildlife area. We have a room block available at the Super 8 in Childress (411 Ave. F, NE)
Watch our website for more details as they develop.

What are we working on?

WHAT: Fact sheet on liability structures in the GP
WHERE: Keep an eye on our website and the next Lek newsletter!
DETAILS: Understanding legal terms can get in the way of making sure you have all the protections you need when burning. We hope the fact sheet will help folks better understand and communicate their liability coverage needs and responsibilities.

Northern mixed-grass prairie at Ft. Keogh, MT ARS station post-burn 2015.
Ft. Keogh, MT ARS station post-burn 2015.
WHAT: Time lapse grassland post-fire videos for Sonora, TX and Ft. Keogh, MT.
DETAILS: Similar to our Season of Grass video, these time lapse videos will show how the prairie changes over time in the TX savanna and northern mixed-grass prairie.
WHERE: Videos will be posted to our YouTube channel when complete.
WHAT: Masters of fire video series, featuring Butch Taylor
We wanted to capture a career's worth of knowledge working at the Sonora field station. Butch introduced the concept of Prescribed Burn Associations and began the process of building a fire culture in the Edward's Plateau.  We hope to have this out by May.
  • Literature review on fire effects in the shortgrass prairie
  • Synthesis of fire effects on insects in grasslands
  • Synthesis of using fire to control woody plants in the Great Plains

Opportunities to contribute to the community through Landfire updates


Contribute to Landfire BpS updates: deadline July 21, 2016

LANDFIRE biophysical settings (BpS) are models that describe ecosystems and their fire regimes. They utilize state and transition models along with expert knowledge. These models are used by researchers and managers for a variety of purposes, from GIS and mapping analysis projects to basic understanding of ecosystems and fire. Please consider contributing to an update of these models for the Great Plains! You can provide updates to the ecosystems you wish to work on from your office; no need to travel. Learn more about contributing to LANDFIRE BpS updates here.

Fire Behavior Fuel Model (FBFM) Guidebook-Database:

Workshop April 11, 2016 (at Fire Behavior Conference) and watch for virtual workshops this spring.
Learn more about improving fire behavior models.

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