Westside Fire Deep Dive

The Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (NW CASC) organizes an annual Deep Dive into an emerging climate risk. We convene researchers, practitioners and students to assess the state of knowledge and practice associated with managing that risk. Each Deep Dive aims to facilitate community development of an Actionable Science Agenda that outlines knowledge gaps and research needs and identifies opportunities to advance adaptation by linking science and practice.

Managing Western Washington Wildfire Risk in a Changing Climate

The Wolverine Creek Fire located northwest of Lucerne, WA began on Jun. 29, 2015. The fire was caused by a lightning strike.
Source: U.S. Forest Service

As our climate changes, people are becoming increasingly worried about wildfires in the western United States. In Washington, dry forests east of the Cascade Mountains have historically experienced frequent wildfire, unlike the dense, wet forests of western Washington. However, in recent years, more fires in these wet and productive forests are raising concern and prompting people to ask: What is the risk of wildfire in western Washington?  How does climate change affect this risk? How can we manage this risk of wildfire west of the Cascades?

To help answer these questions, the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, the Tulalip Tribes and the Puget Sound Climate Preparedness Collaborative convened a one-day Deep Dive workshop on Managing Western Washington Wildfire Risk in a Changing Climate in December 2018. This workshop brought together almost 100 participants from city, county, state, federal and tribal agencies, and provided an opportunity to share what is currently known (and unknown) about wildfire risk west of the Cascades, work together to identify research and coordination needs for managing westside fire risk, and discuss actions that may help reduce this risk. Through this workshop, participants were able to engage in peer-to-peer learning, networking and cross-disciplinary exchange of knowledge and ideas about preparing for wildfire.

The following themes emerged from the workshop presentations and discussions:

  1. Fire plays an important ecological and cultural role west of the Cascades.
  2. Wildfire risk on the west side of the Cascades is higher than most people realize, and we may need more outreach to effectively communicate this growing risk in order for individuals and communities to take action.
  3. Wildland fire is fundamentally different east and west of the Cascades, and we may need different management strategies to cope with westside fire moving forward.
  4. The risk of wildfire west of the Cascades will likely increase with climate change and population growth.
  5. Collaboration will be critical to deal with increasing wildfire risk in a changing climate.

Workshop Resources

This workshop summary report highlights the key themes that emerged from the workshop and includes the actionable science agenda co-developed through this workshop.

Workshop Summary Report
This webinar summarizes key themes that emerged from the presentations and discussion throughout the day.


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