Fire is an important ecological process that has helped shape western landscapes. Wildfire suppression and other management practices may have altered historic fire regimes in ecosystems adapted to frequent, low-severity fires. Compounding this problem is the encroachment of homes into fire-prone areas.
Fire affects a number of abiotic and biotic components of ecosystems, and had many economic and social ramifications. The full range of consequences, however, remains poorly understood.
To implement sound fire management, managers require improved understanding of fire effects on public lands. Although the importance of fire to ecosystem function is widely recognized, wildfire science has not been fully integrated into management actions.
An interdisciplinary approach is essential to integrate and evaluate tradeoffs among fire management policies and practices.