Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

Bandelier and Beyond: Interagency Partnerships for Fire Ecology

Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
Cohesive Strategy—Maintain and Restore Resilient Landscapes*

Firefighter with driptorch walks toward road with other firefighters observing nearby.

Bandelier fire ecology personnel prepare to assist on a prescribed fire on the Valles Caldera National Preserve. NPS / Cameron Balog

In 1992, Bandelier National Monument implemented its fire ecology program as fire and resource managers sought a process to evaluate the effectiveness of fire management treatments, such as prescribed burning and thinning.

A fire ecologist takes a sample along a transect while another ecologist observes.

Bandelier fire ecology personnel collect fuels data after a prescribed fire. NPS / Bandelier fire ecology staff

The program staff collects both short and long-term data on permanent vegetation and fuel monitoring plots to provide information on fuel reduction and vegetative changes after management treatments. These data are a key component of the adaptive management process, providing quantitative evaluation of whether management objectives are being met, measuring the effectiveness of prescribed fire and thinning prescriptions, and helping to determine if additional research is needed. Long-term monitoring can also reveal significant trends to help guide fire and resource management planning and decision making.

In recent years, Bandelier’s fire ecology program has assisted other local agencies and partners in conducting treatment effectiveness assessments. In 2009, Bandelier fire ecology was contracted by the US Forest Service (USFS) to conduct treatment effectiveness monitoring on local Forest Service lands. In 2013, Bandelier fire ecology entered into a five-year contract with the Forest Service to continue their monitoring. Since 2009, they have installed 57 vegetation and fuel plots in three USFS project areas, and have assisted in prescribed burning two of the project areas. Post-burn data analysis and evaluation is currently being conducted.

In 2011, the Valles Caldera National Preserve requested assistance from Bandelier’s fire ecology program to collect fuels data in preparation for a prescribed fire in one of their project areas. Fire ecology personnel also participated in the prescribed burn. Post-burn data analysis was conducted and provided to the Valles Caldera’s fire management officer.

Bandelier’s fire ecology program will continue to foster interagency relationships and partnering into the future, as land managers from many different agencies strive to safely and effectively implement treatments that will help to perpetuate the native diversity, resiliency, and sustainability of ecosystems in the Jemez Mountains.

Contact: Laura Trader, Ecologist

Email: Laura_Trader@nps.gov

Phone:(505) 690-9436

*This story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.