Resources > Video: A Fire History of Hunter Creek Valley

A Fire History of Hunter Creek Valley

Naturalist Nights 2015 | Jason S. Sibold

Fire is a critical ecosystem process shaping patterns of forest characteristics from stands to landscapes in the western United States. Following a century of fire suppression practices in the region, natural patterns of wildfire have been significantly altered in many forest types, resulting in significant ecological consequences. Specifically, unnatural patterns of fire have resulted in unnatural forest conditions (species composition and tree density) and set the stage for extensive, high-severity fires and bark beetle outbreaks. Consequently, forest ecosystem management actions are focused on restoring forests to pre-fire suppression characteristics. Restoring forests to natural conditions has the added benefit of increasing forest resilience to the impacts of climate change. However, not all forests have been impacted by fire suppression, and management activities intended to restore stands in these forests could actually create unnatural forest conditions and decrease system resilience to climate change impacts. Consequently, it is essential to identify the need for restoration for individual sites and forest types before implementing restoration activities. In this talk Jason will present results from a tree-ring based reconstruct of fire history for Smuggler Mountain and the Hunter Creek drainage, and their implications for the need for forest restoration at the site.

Jason S. Sibold (PhD) is an assistant professor of geography in the Department of Anthropology at Colorado State University. Dr. Sibold’s research focuses on the role of wildfire, insect outbreaks and their interactions in shaping forests in the US RockyMountains and southern Chile. Dr. Sibold was recently called to testify before the House Committee on Natural Resources on the scientific understanding of bark beetle outbreaks and their interactions with wildfires. His research is supported by the National Park Service, US Geological Survey, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, Fulbright Scholars Program and Joint Fire Sciences Program and has been published in journals including Ecological Applications, Journal of Biogeography, Canadian Journal of Forest Research and Landscape Ecology.

Naturalist Nights are brought to you through a partnership between Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Wilderness Workshop, and Roaring Fork Audubon.

Jason Sibold, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Geography, Colorado State University

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