Note to Reporters: As Colorado and the nation’s wildfire season continues, Colorado State is providing the following list of wildfire experts who can address a variety of information about wildfires and forestry. The tip sheet is intended to provide resources to the media but not contact information for the public.
Wildfire risk reduction, forest ecology, and forest restoration
Dan Binkley, professor of forest ecology at Warner College of Natural Resources, is available to talk about ways to reduce risks of catastrophic wildfires and improve the health of Colorado’s forests. To speak with Binkley, contact Jennifer Dimas at Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu or (970) 491-1543.
Protecting your pets
The effects on pets are as similar as they are for humans – dry, watery or red eyes, increased respiratory efforts (panting, wheezing), says Rebecca Ruch Gallie, assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Pets with heart and respiratory issues should be kept indoors and limited exercise. For pets on medications for heart or respiratory issues, owners should contact their veterinarians to discuss whether or not medication doses need to be adjusted. To speak with Rebecca Ruch Gallie, contact Emily Wilmsen at Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu or (970) 491-2336.
Fire fuels versus climate/weather in occurrences of large wildfires
Jason Sibold, an assistant professor of geography with a focus on forest fire and bark beetle influences and interaction in Rocky Mountain forests, can address 1) the relative importance of fuels and bark-beetle altered fuels versus climate/weather in the occurrence of large wildfires and extreme fire years, 2) natural fire regimes (fire frequency, severity and extent) and how recent fires compare to natural fires, 3) fire-climate interactions including the influence of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean basins on climate and fire occurrence in the Rockies, and 4) what the climate of the next decades likely means for wildfire risk in the Rockies. His research shows that we have recently moved into a scenario that means that we should expect fires like the High Park fire and large fire years will be more likely in the coming decades. Through his work with tree rings as well as modern fire records, Sibold can provide a broad focus of fire events over the last few hundred years as well as a more fine-scale focus on fires over the last few decades. To speak with Sibold, contact Jennifer Dimas at Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu or (970) 419-1543.
Wildland fire science
Monique Rocca, associate professor of wildland fire science at CSU, is available to talk about the role of wildfire in natural ecosystems, and how management activities such as fire suppression, prescribed fire and forest thinning can affect natural ecosystems and future wildfires. She can also discuss the effects of the mountain pine beetle outbreak in Colorado on future wildfires and what the future may hold for affected forests. To speak with Rocca, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu.
Health of Colorado forests
Tony Cheng, director of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, can talk about ways to reduce risks of catastrophic wildfires to homes and communities and improve the health of Colorado’s forests. The Colorado Forest Restoration Institute was established by Congress to work with state and federal partners and communities to actively restore forest landscape health and reduce the risk of severe wildfires. Cheng can also talk about community wildfire protection planning, public participation in forest management, planning sustainable wildfire mitigation and forest restoration plans. To speak with Cheng, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu.
Fire behavior and effects
Chad Hoffman, assistant professor fire science at CSU, is available to discuss fire behavior and modeling, fuels management and wildfire hazard and risk reduction, disturbance ecology, fire and bark beetle interactions, fire and forest pathogen interactions. To speak with Hoffman, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu.
Bill Romme, fire ecology professor emeritus, can discuss fire management policies, the effects of fires on organisms, populations, communities and ecosystems as well as the ecological role of fire in various major vegetation types of North America. He can also talk about the effects of fires in Yellowstone National Park on nitrogen and carbon cycling and re-growth of lodgepole pine forests. To speak with Romme, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu.
Satellite images of High Park fire
Matt Rogers with CSU’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere is available to talk about satellite images of the High Park fire and how fire affects the atmosphere. To speak with Rogers, contact Emily Wilmsen at Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu or (970) 491-2336.
Health effects of wildfire smoke
Jennifer Peel and John Volckens, associate professors in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, can talk about the health effects of air pollution in general and specifically about the potential health effects of populations affected by woodsmoke in developing countries. They can discuss the health effects of particulate matter and carbon monoxide, two of the major pollutants produced by wildfires. To speak with Peel or Volckens, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 or Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu.
Forest fuel management
Frederick "Skip" Smith, department head of CSU’s Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, is available to discuss how forest and fuel management is a key factor in reducing wildland fire risk. To speak with Smith, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu.
Douglas Rideout, CSU wildfire economist and director of the WESTFIRE Research Center, can discuss the economics and management of wild and prescribed fires, the wildland-urban interface, strategic analysis and budgeting of fire programs, fuel management and initial attack systems. The center has played a central role in the construction and implementation of the new Fire Program Analysis system that is being implemented nationally to support fire program planning. To speak with Rideout, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu.
Sher Schranz, senior project manager with Colorado State’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere in collaboration with the NOAA Earth System Research Lab in Boulder, can talk about “fire weather,” which is a term used to define the research, technology, modeling and observational sensors used to better assist emergency officials and firefighters with prediction of wildfires. To speak with Schranz, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 or Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu.
Impacts on fire and forest management on runoff and erosion
Lee MacDonald, professor of land-use hydrology in CSU’s Watershed Science Program, can discuss effects of fires, forest management, and beetle kill, on run-off (peak flows, low flows and annual water yields) and erosion. He can also discuss the effectiveness of post-fire rehabilitation treatments on runoff and erosion, and the rates of hydrologic recovery after both wild and prescribed fires. To speak with MacDonald, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu.
Improving erosion after fires
Chris Thornton, professor of civil engineering, can talk about CSU’s decades of work testing commercial products that reduce erosion under conditions that can result from fires. Landmark Earth Solutions, Inc. has been working with Thornton, along with Greg Holt with the USDA-ARS at the Engineering Research Center to test a product made of fiberized and processed agricultural crop residue (including cotton plant material and other reclaimed agricultural products) and proprietary bonding agents so it sticks to the ground and prevents erosion. This product has indicated superior erosion control performance and seed germination, Thornton said. To speak with Thornton, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 orEmily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu.
Snowmelt, run-off and streamflow
Steven Fassnacht, associate professor of snow hydrology in CSU’s Watershed Science Program, can discuss ongoing analyses of mountain snow characteristics across various portions of the Colorado River basin. He is also available to discuss this year’s very low snow levels across northern Colorado. The region has as little snow as in the drought year of 2002 (50% of average, 25% of last year), but the snow started to melt almost two months before it normally does. To speak with Fassnacht, contact Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543 or Jennifer.Dimas@colostate.edu.
Weather observation and historical climate data
Officials at CSU’s Colorado Climate Center collect data on snow totals and impacts on drought, weather observation, historical climate data, precipitation and seasonal weather patterns. They also can address agricultural, recreational, hydrologic and industrial applications of climate information. The climate center is also host to the statewide volunteer network, called the Community Collaborative Rain, Snow and Hail Network, that improves precipitation monitoring and helps provide detailed storm analysis, drought, water supply and other water decision-making information to municipalities, homeowners, industries, utility providers, resource managers and educators. To speak with someone in the climate center, contact Emily Wilmsen at (970) 491-2336 or Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu.