UBC Undergraduate Research

Climate change & forest fires in British Columbia Roberson, Jeff 2015-04-10

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     Climate Change &      Forest Fires in      British Columbia                                               _                            Jeff Roberson                                      _                              04/10/2015               FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 2  Table of Contents Cover Page……………………………………………………………………………..………….1 Table of Contents…………………………………………………………………………..……...2 Abstract……………………………………………………………………………………..……..3 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………..………3 Background……………………………………………………………………………….….……5 Review of Fire Driving Forces: The Fire Environment Triangle………………………....………8   Topography …………………………………………………………………….…………9   Fuel……………………………………….……………………………………………….9   Weather…………………………….…………………………………………………….11   Weather Influences on Ignition Events……………………………….………….………11 Mountain Pine Beetle Impacts…………………………….………………………………..……12 Difficulties of Predicting Impacts of Climate Change….…………………………………..……13 Management Strategies………………………………….……………………………………….14   Management of MPB Infested Stands………….………………………………………..14   Fuel Management & Prescribed Burning…….……………………………………….…15   Collection of Fire Weather Data…………..…………………………………………..…18   Adjustment of Policy……..………………..…………………………………………….19   Educating the Public……………………………………………………………………..20 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………….20 References………………………………………………………………………….…………….22   FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 3  ABSTRACT In wake of past suppression practices in British Columbia, paired with anthropogenic induced climate change, more intensive forest fire fuel management is of growing necessity. Strategies aimed to mitigate the chances of uncontrollable, hazardous fires have been recommended which includes fuel management practices, influencing policy changes, educating the public, and additional collection of fire weather data. Regardless of  the numerous studies projecting lengthening of fire seasons and increases in areas burned as well as studies refuting these findings and projections, proactive management of forest fire fuels must occur to avoid hazardous, uncontrollable, severe wildfires that threaten communities.  INTRODUCTION Global climate change is of growing concern as it presents a new range of problems for the world’s current and future generations. Global climate change may result in not only gradual changes to agriculture and forestry through the changes in plant establishment, growth, and survival but it may also result in more abrupt changes to natural disturbances and alterations to fire regimes. Local, regional, and global changes in temperature and precipitation can influence the occurrence, timing, frequency, duration, extent, and intensity of disturbances (Baker 1995 & Turner et al., 1998). Forest fires are one type of natural disturbance that may be increasingly influenced by climate change. Wotton (1998) states that the Canadian Climate Centre General Circulation Model (GCM) scenarios show an anticipated increase in overall fire occurrence of 25% by 2030 and 75% by the end of the century (p. 253). Liu et al. (2010) state that perhaps the most impactful finding regarding climate change on wildfire potential is that the fire season will FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 4  grow longer while more extreme weather events will become more frequent(p. 695).  A longer fire season results in a longer duration and likelihood of fuel drying along with an increased time period for potential ignition. In areas with drier climates, the fire season could extend to the point of lasting the entire year (Liu et al, 2010). Extreme fire weather events would also present problems as they would generally have a faster rate of spread and would leave less time to be controlled (Fried et al., 2004). The expected increase of fire season duration paired with the increased likelihood of more extreme weather events show a potential projected overall shift in fire regimes in the near future. Fire suppression is another factor that will have major impacts to fire regimes as it interacts with projected global climate change. In British Columbia, fire suppression practices have been implemented since 1912, resulting in an accumulation of fuels in the forests of British Columbia. Although the forests throughout British Columbia have not been equally affected by fire suppression in the past, there are large amounts of effected forests that may result in severe fires that may spread to less prone areas. Podur et al. (2010) fear that although fires can be supressed, climate change-driven increases in fire numbers and intensity could potentially overwhelm our suppression abilities (p.1301). Stocks et al. (1998) state that warmer and drier conditions resulting from climate change is likely to crease a positive feedback loop between fires in the boreal ecosystems and climate change, since more carbon would be released from these forests than what is being stored (p. 3). In response to the increases in fuel abundance paired with the increased duration of fire seasons due to climate change, management strategies must adapt to mitigate the chances of potentially dangerous wildfires. Because of the changing forest fire regimes, forest fire management strategies must be adaptive and changes FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 5  must be made in order to be proactive rather than reactive in regards to wildfire occurrences. Strategies aimed to mitigate the chances of uncontrollable, hazardous fires include fuel management practices, influencing policy changes, and collection of fire weather data. These potential strategies will be discussed in addition to the potential impacts of climate change on forest fires in British Columbia. BACKGROUND As anthropogenic induced climate change becomes widely accepted in science, natural disturbance alterations in response to the change in climate are becoming increasingly evident. Gillett et al. (2004) explains that nearly a decade ago, in 2003, forest fires in British Columbia made the news worldwide, when they destroyed over two hundred homes, and forced the evacuation of thirty thousand people (Armstrong, 2003). Since then there have been several larger fire seasons observed over the past decade, thus, there is growing concern regarding the future potential fire seasons yet to be observed. The worry of more severe and frequent wildfire occurrences is intensifying since the area burned by wildfires in Canada each year has shown a distinct upward tendency over recent decades (Van Wagner, 1988; Skinner et al., 1999, 2002; Podur et al., 2002; Stocks et al., 2003). Unfortunately, this increasing trend of area burned by wildfire is consistent with predictions that the area burned in Canada will double by the end of the century (Flannigan et al.,2004) as well as the projection that the length of the fire season will increase (Wotton and Flannigan, 1993; Stocks et al., 1998). At the same time, several recent studies have validated that human emissions of greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosol have had a detectable warming effect on North American climate (Zwiers and Zhang, 2003; Karoly et al., 2003; Stott, 2003) (Gillett et al. 2004). Considering these projections, public FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 6  safety is of growing concern since fuel management and safety precautions to combat wildfire occurrence still remains insufficient.  Over the last century there have been many practices in place involving forest fires in British Columbia and other parts of Canada. Although some practices such as suppressing all fires possible in all areas of British Columbia seemed ideal at the time, current understanding of wildfire management activities suggest that fire suppression is not always ideal since it can result in an increase in the accumulation of forest fire fuels and homogenization of forests and fuels across landscapes.  Fire suppression has created ecosystems with highly connected fuel loads that cause fires to be larger and hotter than historically observed (Thompson et al., 1998).  Because fire suppression techniques have been used in British Columbia since 1912(British Columbia Forest Service, 2010) and have been increasingly more effective since the 1940s with further advancements in technology for detection, transportation of people and equipment and suppression capabilities, there are many areas where forest fuels have been altered. While fire suppression is important to protect communities, sometimes allowing fuels to burn in both wildfires and prescribed burns can be beneficial in reducing fuels in order to mitigate the chances of a dangerous fire that is beyond our suppression abilities. Because there has been an accumulation of fuels due to fire suppression in many areas, typically in dry forests and valley bottoms where lots of people live, many urban communities face risk of overwhelming wildfires that cannot easily be suppressed. In addition to the abundance of fuels, urban populations are growing, thus, interactions between urban communities and forests are increasing. With increasing interaction between humans and forests, there is also growing concern of human induced ignition in forests.  FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 7  In addition to the alterations to fuels caused by human interactions (fire suppression), anthropogenic induced climate change is also of growing concern as the effects on forest fire variables becomes more evident. Liu et al. (2010) declare that the number of fires that occur annually can be affected by climate change as well as a potential increase in length of the fire season, the area burned by wildfire and the intensity of these fires. More frequent and higher intensity wildfires may result from the larger fire potential caused by the changes in these fire properties (p. 694). Because climate change has many implications on how current fire activity frequency and severity may be altered, each fire weather variable must be considered and analyzed when predicting overall effects of climate change on forest fire weather. Forest fires require many crucial weather variables to occur including variables such as higher temperatures for longer durations for fuel drying and frequent lightning strikes for ignition. Fire behaviour is influenced by many additional variables such as topography, slope, aspect, fuel types, fuel dryness, wind, and precipitation.  Because of the complexity of the variables that contribute to fire occurrence and spread, the effects of climate change must be critically assessed, considering the range of variables that could have negative and positive correlation to severe fire occurrences.  It has been found that Increases in frequency and intensity of lightning have been predicted in global warming scenarios, based on the short-term relationship between surface temperatures and lightning activity (Price, C., & Rind, D. 1994). Fauria et al (2010) has also found that in response to warmer conditions, there may be increases observed in area burned due to the positive correlation between temperature and area burned during the past four decades, which suggests that recent increases in burned area may already be the result of anthropogenic greenhouse gas-induced climate change.  FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 8  REVIEW OF FIRE DRIVING FORCES: THE FIRE ENVIRONMENT TRIANGLE In order to understand how fire behaviour might be affected by climate change we can refer to the fire environment triangle which includes three sides that represent different environmental components that contribute to fire behaviour. The Glossary of Forest Fire Management Terms defines Fire Behavior as: "the manner in which fuel ignites, flame develops, and fire spreads and exhibits other related phenomena as determined by the interaction of fuel, weather, and topography” (Merrill & Alexander, editors. 1987). In order for fire to occur and spread, the variables on the triangle, topography, fuel, and weather, interact with one another to determine the spread and effects of the fire once ignition occurs. These fire environment factors determine the characteristics and behaviour of fire at any given moment and can also be used to evaluate fire risk and hazard.   Figure 1: Fire Behavior Triangle (Alberta Government 2013).  FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 9  Topography Topography is the arrangement of the physical features of an area, typically regarded as the features of the land including things like, slope, shape, and aspect.   Topography is one variable that can be expressed as constant since landforms change very slowly when compared to wildfires. Topography is one of the three fire environment variables and can have major impacts to the spread of a fire. If fire is downslope, the potential for the fire to spread quickly uphill is high, whereas if the fire is upslope, since heat rises, it becomes more difficult for the fire to spread downslope without high wind conditions. Since topography is highly variable from one area to the next, it has very unique and variable interactions with fire behaviour. However, since topography is somewhat constant in time scales relevant to weather and fuel variability in response to climate changes, it can remain as a constant variable for the purpose of this paper.  Fuel Forest Fire Fuels consists of the living and dead plant materials from the forests that can potentially fuel wildfire activity including things like tree branches, moss, snags, logs, vegetation, leaves, grass, limbwood, duff, roots, and even soil. Fuel contributes greatly to the potential of a fire and determines to a large extent the severity of the fire. Fire fuels can relate to not only the dryness and abundance of fuels but also the sizes and types of fuels that are present. Depending on the types of fuels that are available along with the locations of their abundance, the risk and hazard can be predicted and assumptions on the potential severity of a fire can be made. Fire hazard refers to both the magnitude of consequences of the potential fire and the risk or probability of that fire occurring. FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 10  Fuel drying is one of the essential variables that drive fire activity and may be greatly impacted by longer fire seasons. “In forest fuels, water is a latent heat sink that affects several aspects of combustion, including preheating, pyrolysis, rate of spread, rate of energy release, and time to extinction” (Cox, 1995; Drysdale, 1999;  Dembsey  2007). Fuel drying is an outcome of the combination of heat and absence of moisture content in fuels. With a longer predicted fire season, it is likely that fuel will have a higher potential for drying, however, it is difficult to predict accurately since precipitation may fluctuate and counterbalance the excess duration of heat. Fauria et al (2010) discuss the climatic patterns associated with the surface weather conditions susceptible to rapid fuel drying, as well as their connections at synoptic to planetary (Rossby) scales and their potential future dynamics in global warming scenarios. Although Fauria et al (2010) find that the effects of climate change on the dynamics of the teleconnections that control fuel drying are unknown; other researchers have found that the occurrence of fires are more common, especially during El Ninos and the positive phase of PDO(Heyerdahl et al. 2008). Heyerdahl et al. (2008), find that variations in climate, including springtime temperature and summertime soil and fuel moisture, have historically had large effects on area burned. In addition, Heyerdahl et al. (2008) find that although high-severity fires have only occasionally occurred at fine scales in all forests except the driest ponderosa pine woodlands, the changes in fuel amounts, structure, and continuity resulting from fire exclusion in dry forests across much of the region makes high-severity fires more likely. Fuel and weather contribute a large share to the fire environment and are both effected to a large degree by climate. Because of the influence of climate on the fire triangle variables (weather and fuel) FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 11  that drive fire behavior, climate change implies major changes and influence to future fire environment, behavior, and frequency. Weather Daily weather determines to a large extent the fuel conditions through fire weather indices, as indicated by fire danger ratings. The fire danger ratings are based on four main variables from weather that drive fire behavior including temperature, relative humidity (RH), wind, and rain. Weather is highly variable and has complex interactions with fire since variables like RH and precipitation may decrease the chances of fire while increases in temperature and wind can increase the chances and potential to spread. Although there are numerous studies predicting an increase in area burned in response to global climate change, (Wotton et al., 2003; Flannigan et at., 2004; Tymstra et al., 1977; Girardin et al., 2004; Mudelsee et al., 2008; Malevsky-Malevich 2008; Balshi et al., 2009; Krawchuk 2009) including an earlier start to the fire season,( Stocks et al. 1998) some studies forecast insignificant fluctuations of area burned since the increased precipitation may offset the effects of warmer temperatures(Girardin et al., 2004; Flannigan et al., 1998), however, the increases in precipitation must be during the spring or summer fire season, which is not the case in many places of British Columbia. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the interactions of weather and fire and the spatial variability of weather, it remains a difficult task to accurately predict specific fire behaviours across scales. Weather Influences on Ignition Events Weather encompasses many variables that have complex interactions with fire behavior such as wind, RH, precipitation, and temperature, but weather can also include other aspects that FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 12  promote ignition events and fire activity such as lightning strikes. Increases in frequency and intensity of lightning have been predicted in global warming scenarios, based on the short-term relationship between surface temperatures and lightning activity (Price, C., & Rind, D. 1994). With a predicted increase of frequency and intensity of lightning strikes paired with the abundance of fuels due to fire suppression practices, it suggests an increasing potential for ignition events. The findings of an increase in possible ignition events involving lightning strikes paired with the increased potential for fire weather would only suggest that more frequent wildfire events are possible, thus, management of high risk areas are crucial in avoiding hazardous wildfires.  MOUNTAIN PINE BEETLE IMPACTS Climate change may lead to unforeseen issues that may in turn have a great impact on fire potential. An issue that has had astonishing impacts to fire potential is the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Climate change has presented favorable warmer conditions to the mountain pine beetle allowing populations to persist through colder period resulting in enormous population increases causing vast pine stands to die due to the reproductive cycle the MPB requires (Alfaroet al. 2010). These vast mountain pine beetle infested stands result in large amounts of accumulated forest fuels from the dead effected trees. The current mountain pine beetle effects are extensive and severe in the western region of North America, thus, an understanding of the current and future ecological and economic implications is critical. Jenkins et al (2014) found that “although recent research shows some disagreement over expected changes in fire behavior during the early portions of an epidemic, observations from recent wildfires suggest that recently attacked forests are capable of increased probabilities of FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 13  torching and crowning and increased likelihood of spotting”. It is important to note that although some data may express insignificant changes in fire activity in relation to MPB affected areas, that there are evident alterations to fuel loads in these affected areas and the effects of the MPB are long term and ongoing making more intensive management of fuels in these areas a crucial step towards avoiding potential catastrophic fire events. DIFFICULTIES OF PREDICTING IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE While there are numerous studies suggesting the positive correlation between increasing temperatures and increased areas burned, there are many other variables that cause complexity in predicting the overall effects of climate change on forest fires in BC. Although many researchers have found that areas burned are projected to increase in response to climate change effects, Fauria et al (2010) found that the effects of climate change on the dynamics of the teleconnections that control fuel drying remain unknown. When considering overall fuel drying, the positive and negative influences of select areas remain complex and unpredictable. As mentioned before, many studies predict there will be an increased area burned, (Wotton et al., 2003; Flannigan et at., 2004;  Tymstra et al., 1977; Girardin et al., 2004; Mudelsee et al., 2008; Malevsky-Malevich 2008; Balshi et al., 2009; Krawchuk 2009) including an earlier start to the fire season(Stocks et al., 1998). Although some forecast insignificant changes due to increased precipitation offsetting the effects of warmer temperatures (Girardin et al., 2004; Flannigan et al., 1998), the increases in precipitation must be during the spring or summer fire season, which is not the case in many places of British Columbia. It is difficult to predict weather and precipitation events at local scales over long periods; however, Global Climate Models combined with programs such as ClimateBC clearly indicate that seasonal FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 14  changes in climate are highly relevant at local and regional scales. In many areas in BC, summer precipitation has shown a decrease in the 20th century and is forecast to continue along this trend. With all arguments and predictions there exists skepticism and studies suggesting otherwise, however, regardless of the uncertainties in predicting climate change impacts on forest fire weather, management of fire prone areas must remain a high priority to ensure proactive approaches to mitigate occurrences of severe, hazardous wildfires. MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES Forest management strategies are of growing importance due to our history of fire suppression and fuel buildup along with the challenges and changes that climate warming may imply for future forest fire occurrences.  Management of MPB Infested Stands The drastic changes forced upon the fuel complex over the course of the MPB rotation have important implications for fire management (Jenkins, 2014). Management of MPB forests susceptible to wildfire occurrences may have large investment costs with little economic returns, however, creating forest structures that are more resilient to wildfire at stand and landscape levels may decrease the concerns and costs associated with fire suppression activities and the susceptibility of forests to MPB outbreaks (Fettig et al., 2014). Proper forest management is of growing importance due to the growing potential for beetle outbreaks and severe wildfires. Forest managers should adapt silviculture treatments to mitigate effects of pest outbreaks, “for example, the colonization of phloem-feeding insects, such as bark beetles, is partially controlled by the ability of the tree to produce oleoresin, which is under genetic FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 15  control. So, planting selected tree species and genotypes with relatively high oleoresin could limit insect outbreaks” (Jenkins et al., 2014). Forest companies tend to choose cheaper, more reliable, fast growing species for silviculture treatments in order to reach the “green up” stage so that leased land can be returned to the government. Since planting more diverse resilient stands is more costly and slow growing, forest companies are left with little incentive to manage for future potential pest outbreaks. As for stands that have already been affected by the MPB, government policies must shift in order to provide economic incentive to forest harvesting companies to manage the fuels and dead trees present in these lands and plant more resilient species. Filmon et al. (2004) explains that excluding volumes from the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) which operate under fuel management guidelines would allow areas to pursue management activities more aggressively (Filmon et al., 2004; Le Goff, 2009). Adjusting the AAC or continuing to convert some volume based tenures to area based tenures for MPB kill areas could potentially give forest companies more incentive and ability to manage these susceptible stands. Filmon et al. (2004) state that "the addition of stumpage to the basic cost of harvest often negates the economic viability of operating in low-quality tree stand areas" (p. 32). Although many of these MPB infested areas have not been impacted by wildfire yet, “it is important to emphasize that these conditions are significant and not short-lived and that MPB-affected forests might exhibit some degree of altered fire behavior for up to a decade or more after a MPB outbreak” (Jenkins et al 2014).  Fuel Management & Prescribed Burning Fuel management is a key strategy that can be used to combat the potential rise in wildfire severity and frequency. In relation to the fire environment triangle including fuel, weather, and FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 16  topography, fuel is the only variable that we can manage for to influence fire behavior and effects. Arno and Fiedler (2005) believe that fire-prone forests could be actively restored through fuel management to restore their natural resilience to frequent fires. Numerous methods are available for fuel management including physically removing fuels, thinning or harvesting, or even prescribed burns. Surface fires could be used as a management tool to maintain fire-susceptible habitat features in conservation areas (Fulé et al. 2005). Fuel management strategies, regardless of what specific methods are used must be consistent and efficient. Agee and Skinner (2004) explain that “if fuel treatments are small and scattered, or a long time has elapsed since treatment (generally 10–15 years or more), they will be less effective in fragmenting the landscape fuel loads, and their efficacy at the stand level can be overwhelmed by intense fires burning in adjacent areas”. Since we know that fuel management is crucial and that we must be doing it, we should no longer be arguing for its place in management but rather we should be determining where these types of management should occur. We are now faced with decisions on how much of a landscape needs to be treated as well as where management would be most effective in order to be most proficient in delegating management efforts and most efficient in preventing high amounts of wildfire damages (Agee, 1996; Weatherspoon & Skinner; 1996; Taylor & Skinner, 1998).  Prescribed burning is one effective strategy that can combat the accumulation forest fire fuels. Although, in British Columbia, fire can be a relatively expensive tool with many constraints and regulations, prescribed burns can have number of beneficial uses such as removing logging debris, reducing wildfire risk, increasing the abundance of certain understory species, and maintaining or restoring certain ecological conditions (Carter et al., 2004). Although conditions FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 17  required for prescribed burning can be restraining at times, prescribed burns are effective in reducing wildfire risk when concluded.  The potential for active crown fire is reduced most effectively by combinations of prescribed fire and mechanical fuel treatments (i.e., removal of smaller-diameter trees) (Stephens et al., 2012). When applied under prescription, both prescribed fire and its mechanical surrogates (e.g., thinning) are generally effective in meeting short-term fuel reduction objectives as treated stands are more resilient to wildfire (Stephens et al., 2012; McIver et al. 2013). Prescribed burns have the potential for many benefits when mitigating the risk of wildfire and promoting ecological restoration, however, there are a number of limitations to using prescribed burns in British Columbia. Although the public has limited knowledge about prescribed burns, the general perception of burns is negative due to concerns of smoke, carbon release, aesthetic damage, and releases other trace gases into the atmosphere. Liu et al. (2010) explain that “smoke particles are one of the sources of atmospheric aerosols, which affect atmospheric radiative transfer through scattering and absorbing solar radiation and through modifying cloud microphysics. These processes can further modify clouds and precipitation and atmospheric circulation” (Liu et al., 2010). Regardless of the smoke and atmospheric aerosol impacts, prescribed burns are much more ideal than having a larger scale, more severe, uncontrollable wildfire.  It has been shown that prescribed burning releases significantly less carbon into the atmosphere than large, uncontrolled fires which often cause significant environmental damage (Diggins et al., 2010). FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 18  Collection of Fire Weather Data Liu et al (2010) state that drier, warmer climate will result from climate change resulting in a potential to increase fire occurrence and intensified fire behavior, thus, the distribution of fire-dependent, -sensitive and - influenced ecosystems may be altered (p.685). With climate change altering the areas that are prone to wildfire occurrence, more detailed maps and data are required in order to make appropriate management strategies to mitigate the chances of wildfire occurrence as well as to create safety plans for communities that may be at risk to these changes.  Liu et al. (2010) believe that there has been an absence of fire weather data collected throughout time and that the current data is used to extrapolate findings into the future, thus, in order to make more informed management decisions regarding fuel management, additional fire weather data must be collected and utilized in order to aid in the decisions of future managers. Nitschke, & Innes, (2008) mention that “ignoring fire regime vulnerability will increase the risk to maintaining one of the foundations of sustainable forest management; functioning ecosystems”. Johnstone et al. (2010) state that the complex relationships between plants, soils, and fires allow for a high level of resilience to the natural forest fire regime that an area is accustomed to. However, Johnstone et al. continues and declares that “if fire regimes shift in response to changing climate conditions, fires may interrupt these feedback cycles and cause abrupt shifts in community composition. These changes are most likely to occur in portions of the landscape where community composition is not tightly constrained by slow-changing abiotic factors, such as in areas of intermediate moisture drainage." (Johnstone et al., 2010, p. 1310). It is obvious that the shift in fire regimes pose many complications and challenges for ecosystems and management of fire in the future. FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 19  In order to manage for these changes in fire regimes, proper data collection and mapping must be accumulated in order to efficiently manage for high risk areas. Stocks et al. underlines the importance in continuing to model future climates using higher resolution models as they become available so that in the future, managers can make more informed decisions when planning (Stocks et al., 1998). While accumulation of data allows for more informed management, strategies in place to combat the future fire regime vulnerability remains challenging and management must adapt to efficiently mitigate high risk situations. Nitschke, & Innes, (2008)suggest that “using our understanding of future fire regime vulnerability to guide emulation strategies will require dynamic and flexible management approaches that adapt actions as fire regime shifts with climate”.  Adjustment of Policy Since wildfire conditions and fire regimes are shifting quickly, policy and government action must shift in order to meet these changes and maintain public safety. Filmon et al. (2004) provide some useful policy recommendations for creating better fire management skills throughout British Columbia. Filmon et al. (2004) mention that “as is the case for municipal governments, regional districts should be required through legislation to provide local emergency plans developed to a provincial standard and maintained to a current status” (p. 71). Furthermore, they encourage policy to focus on ways to increase public safety by using strict requirements especially in areas of the wildland-urban interface (Filmon et al., 2004). While efforts are being made to manage mountain pine beetle infested areas, it remains difficult for harvesting companies to form economically viable management plans for many of these remote areas. As mentioned before Filmon et al. (2004) calls for excluding volumes from FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 20  the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) which operate under fuel management guidelines to allow areas to pursue management activities more aggressively (Filmon et al., 2004; Le Goff, H, 2009). Some conversion of volume based tenures to area based tenures are currently commencing in order to aid in these management areas, however, more either more conversion is needed or different adjustments must be made in order to remove these fuel filled areas and implement more resilient silviculture treatments in an economically viable manner.  Educating the Public Due to the rising concern for public safety due to the increased chances of more frequent and severe wildfire, education of the public is of utmost importance. Education on wildfire occurrences provides incentive for government and forest managers to ensure public safety through fuel management, policy adjustments, and safety plan formulation in response to a rise in public values. Liu et al. insist that it is important to ensure the public is knowledgeable about human-caused fires especially through the dry summer months (Liu et al., 2010). A knowledgeable public is not only important in order to influence policy or to be prepared with safety responses for times of fire occurrence, but it is important in order to reduce ignition caused by humans. With growing populations, urban communities are growing and thus have increasing interaction with forest ecosystems, increasing the chances of human induced ignition and, thus, increasing the importance of having an informed public. CONCLUSION The global climate change induced alterations to fire regimes and seasons in British Columbia demands response from management in their efforts to mitigate the potential increases in FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 21  frequency, hazard, and severity of future wildfire occurrences. Through an understanding of the impacts that weather and fuel have on the fire environment, we are able to hypothesize what the results of climate change may have on them and thus what the results may suggest to the fire environment. Although there are many studies suggesting a projected increase of area burned in the future due to climate change, the effects of climate change on the dynamics of the teleconnections that control fuels drying remain unknown. Regardless of the predicted increase of risk of severe and frequent wildfire occurrences, management strategies must be proactive to ensure public safety. In response to the growing concerns of managing wildfire occurrence I have recommended that fuel management and prescribed burns should be supported and implemented with aid from policy adjustments to ensure economically viable procedures. I have also recommended continued fire weather data collection in order to provide future managers with data to make informed and efficient decisions in regards to fuel management. Furthermore, educating the public is also recommended in order for values to shift in regards to fuel management and prescribed burns which may in turn result in an influence to policy and potential for increasing public safety. An informed public will not only cause a shift in values, but it may additionally result in lower chances of human caused ignition in areas where urban communities are adjacent to forest ecosystems. It is important to note that current management strategies may not be ideal for future conditions as the frequency of more severe wildfire occurrences may fluctuate, thus, management strategies must adapt to current conditions.        FRST 497 Grad Essay Jeff Roberson 22  REFERENCES Agee, J. K., & Skinner, C. N. (2005). Basic principles of forest fuel reduction treatments. Forest Ecology and Management, 211(1), 83-96. doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2005.01.034 Alberta Government (2013) Wildfire Behavior. Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.  Alfaro, R. I., Campbell, E., Hawkes, B. C., Canadian Public Policy Collection, Mountain Pine Beetle Initiative (Canada), & Pacific Forestry Centre. (2010). Historical frequency, intensity and extent of mountain pine beetle disturbance in british columbia. Victoria, B.C: Pacific Forestry Centre.  Armstrong, J. (2003), Tony homes incinerated by voracious Kelowna fire, The Globe and Mail, Aug. 25. Baker, W. L. (1992). 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