Fire and forests in the 21st Century: Managing resilience under changing climates and fire regimes in USA forests
Higher temperatures, lower snowpacks, drought, and extended dry periods have contributed to increased wildfire activity in recent decades. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of large fires, the cumulative area burned, and fire suppression costs and risks in many areas of the USA. Fire regimes are likely to change due to interactions among climate, fire, and other stressors and disturbances; resulting in persistent changes in forest structure and function. The remainder of the twenty-first century will present substantial challenges, as natural resource managers are faced with higher fire risk and the difficult task of maintaining ecological function in a rapidly changing biophysical and social landscape. Fuel treatments will continue to be important for minimizing the undesirable ecological effects of fire, and for enhancing firefighter safety; however, treatments must be implemented strategically across large areas. Collaboration among agencies, private landowners, and other organizations will be critical for ensuring resilience and sustainable forest management.