Fire Ecology in Rocky Mountain Landscapes
7 x 10
129 photos and illustrations
7 x 10
129 photos and illustrations
Fire Ecology in Rocky Mountain Landscapes brings a century of scientific research to bear on improving the relationship between people and fire.
In recent years, some scientists have argued that current patterns of fire are significantly different from historical patterns, and that landscapes should be managed with an eye toward reestablishing past fire regimes. At the policy level, state and federal agencies have focused on fuel reduction and fire suppression as a means of controlling fire.
Geographer William L. Baker takes a different view, making the case that the available scientific data show that infrequent episodes of large fires followed by long interludes with few fires led to naturally fluctuating landscapes, and that the best approach is not to try to change or control fire but to learn to live with it. In Fire Ecology in Rocky Mountain Landscapes, Baker reviews functional traits and responses of plants and animals to fire at the landscape scale; explains how scientists reconstruct the history of fire in landscapes; elaborates on the particulars of fire under the historical range of variability in the Rockies; and considers the role of Euro-Americans in creating the landscapes and fire situations of today.
In the end, the author argues that the most effective action is to rapidly limit and redesign people-nature interfaces to withstand fire, which he believes can be done in ways that are immediately beneficial to both nature and communities.
"This is a landmark book in disturbance ecology and a masterful synthesis reflecting William Baker's deep knowledge of fire dynamics and understanding of the historical and spatial context of fire-controlled landscapes in the Rocky Mountains. No mere compendium, this book spares few paradigms for the author's insightful scrutiny backed by rigorous data. The book will exceed the expectations of ecologists, geographers, conservationists, and managers."
David J. Mladenoff, Beers-Bascom Professor in Conservation
"Fire Ecology in Rocky Mountain Landscapes examines fire's role in different settings and the influence of humans and climate in shaping fire regimes, past and present. Baker offers a cautionary tale about failed management approaches, the likelihood of severe fires in the future and the urgent need to recast our relationship with nature. Finally, it is a comprehensive reference for fire scientists and fire management working in the interior West."
Cathy Whitlock, Professor of Earth Sciences, Montana State University
"Baker makes a compelling argument that extensive, high-severity fires are a natural component of Rocky Mountain ecosystems; and he questions the widespread view that our 'fire problem' and 'forest health problems' are a consequence of twentieth-century fire suppression. This book dismisses sold strategies stressing costly fuels reduction and fire suppression, and instead suggests sustainable strategies that treat wildfire as a problem in land-use decision making."
Thomas Veblen, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Colorado
"Baker presents a refreshing perspective on fire ecology, revealing multidimensional factors at work in Rocky Mountain ecosystems. His willingness to question established paradigms breaks new ground and will add immensely to our understanding of fire in the systems, ensuring that this will be standard reference for years to come."
Jon Keeley, Research ecologist, US Geological Survey and adjunct professor
"Although the book has a regional focus, the concepts and issues that it presents are widely applicable, making it an excellent resource for researchers, fire and natural resource managers, land planners and policy makers working in diverse fire-prone regions."
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Boxes
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Lightning, Fuels, Topography, Climate, and Fire Behavior
Chapter 3. Fire Effects on Plants: From Individuals to Landscapes
Chapter 4. Fire Effects on Animals: From Individuals to Landscapes
Chapter 5. Fire Regimes and Fire History in Landscapes
Chapter 6. Fire in Pinon-Juniper, Montane Aspen, Mixed-Conifer, Riparian, and Wetland Landscapes
Chapter 7. Fire in Ponderosa Pine and Douglas-Fir Forests
Chapter 8. Fire in Subalpine Forests
Chapter 9. Fire in Shrublands and Grasslands
Chapter 10.People and Fire: Land-Use Legacies across Landscapes
Chapter 11.Emerging Threats and Tools for Living with Fire in Landscapes
Chapter 12.Toward a Better Relationship between People and Fire
Appendix A. Common Rocky Mountain Trees and Their Functional Traits That May Increase Persistence
Appendix B. Common Rocky Mountain Shrubs and Their Response to Fire
Appendix C. Common Rocky Mountain Graminoids and Their Response to Fire
Appendix D. Modeling Studies of Mortality in Rocky Mountain Trees
Appendix E. Animal Species Mentioned in the Text
About the Author