Paul Francis Hessburg

Paul Francis Hessburg
University of Washington Seattle | UW · School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

PhD, Oregon State University, 1984
Evaluating climate change impacts on wNA wildfire regimes, forest reburning, and landscape resilience.

About

191
Publications
46,807
Reads
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6,834
Citations
Citations since 2016
72 Research Items
3850 Citations
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Introduction
My current research focuses on the landscape and disturbance ecology of western North American forests, climate change and wildfire influences on past, present, and future forests, and the structure of landscape resilience.
Additional affiliations
June 1990 - present
USDA Forest Service
Position
  • Research Landscape Ecologist
Description
  • Forestry Sciences Laboratory
August 1978 - June 1984
Oregon State University
Position
  • Research Assistant
Description
  • Doctoral Program
Education
September 1978 - June 1984
Oregon State University
Field of study
  • Botany and Plant Pathology
September 1976 - June 1978
University of Minnesota
Field of study
  • Forestry, Ecosystem Analysis and Silviculture

Publications

Publications (191)
Article
Full-text available
Before the advent of intensive forest management and fire suppression, western North American forests exhibited a naturally occurring resistance and resilience to wildfires and other disturbances. Resilience, which encompasses resistance, reflects the amount of disruption an ecosystem can withstand before its structure or organization qualitatively...
Article
Full-text available
We review science‐based adaptation strategies for western North American (wNA) forests that include restoring active fire regimes and fostering resilient structure and composition of forested landscapes. As part of the review, we address common questions associated with climate adaptation and realignment treatments that run counter to a broad conse...
Article
Full-text available
Forest landscapes across western North America (wNA) have experienced extensive changes over the last two centuries, while climatic warming has become a global reality over the last 4 decades. Resulting interactions between historical increases in forested area and density and recent rapid warming, increasing insect mortality, and wildfire burned a...
Article
Full-text available
Implementation of wildfire‐ and climate‐adaptation strategies in seasonally dry forests of western North America is impeded by numerous constraints and uncertainties. After more than a century of resource and land use change, some question the need for proactive management, particularly given novel social, ecological, and climatic conditions. To ad...
Article
Author direct link, available until mid-Dec, 2021: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1d-zm1L%7EGwQxUc We investigated the relative importance of daily fire weather, landscape position, climate, recent forest and fuels management, and fire history to explaining patterns of remotely-sensed burn severity – as measured by the Relativized Burn Ratio – in...
Article
Full-text available
Process-based Forest Landscape Models (FLMs) rely on first principles to simulate ecological patterns and processes, making them uniquely powerful for forecasting ecological dynamics under unprecedented climatic and disturbance regimes. Persistent challenges with any ecological forecasting model are calibration (“tuning” the model) and validation (...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose of Review Increasing wildfire size and severity across the western United States has created an environmental and social crisis that must be approached from a transdisciplinary perspective. Climate change and more than a century of fire exclusion and wildfire suppression have led to contemporary wildfires with more severe environmental impa...
Article
Full-text available
Recent intense fire seasons in Australia, Borneo, South America, Africa, Siberia, and western North America have displaced large numbers of people, burned tens of millions of hectares, and generated societal urgency to address the wildfire problem (Bowman et al. 2020). Nearly all terrestrial ecosystems, however, burn with some degree of regularity,...
Article
Full-text available
Context In fire-excluded forests across western North America, recent intense wildfire seasons starkly contrast with fire regimes of the past. The last 100 years mark a transition between pre-colonial and modern era fire regimes, providing crucial context for understanding future wildfire behavior. Objectives Using the greatest time depth of digiti...
Article
Full-text available
Decision-making resource stewardship models rely on statistical relationships between management actions and ecosystem services provisioning. The operationalization of management actions benefits from models capable to isolate synergic statistical relationships from trade-offs. We showcase two existing watershed planning studies requiring spatiotem...
Article
Full-text available
Active forest management is applied in many parts of the western United States to reduce wildfire severity, mitigate vulnerability to drought and bark beetle mortality, and more recently, to increase snow retention and late-season streamflow. A rapidly warming climate accelerates the need for these restorative treatments, but the treatment priority...
Article
Full-text available
In fire-dependent forest landscapes, frequent low- to moderate-severity fire maintained vegetation patterns that limited the severity of droughts, wildfires, and insect and pathogen activity. More than a century of fire exclusion, in combination with intensive timber management, has altered these spatial patterns and eroded resistance. Today’s much...
Article
Full-text available
In the western US, wildfires are modifying the structure, composition, and patterns of forested landscapes at rates that far exceed mechanical thinning and prescribed fire treatments. There are conflicting narratives as to whether these wildfires are restoring landscape resilience to future climate and wildfires. To evaluate the landscape-level wor...
Article
Full-text available
The 1994 Northwest Forest Plan signified a watershed moment for natural resource management on federal lands in the Pacific Northwest. It established clear priorities for ecologically motivated management of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity conservation on nearly 10 million hectares of public lands in Oregon, Washington, and nort...
Article
Post-fire landscapes are the frontline of forest ecosystem change. As such, they represent opportunities to foster conditions that are better adapted to future climate and wildfires with post-fire management. In western US landscapes, post-fire management has been mostly defined by short-term emergency mitigation measures, salvage harvest to recove...
Article
Invasive species alter hydrologic processes at watershed scales, with impacts to biodiversity and the supporting ecosystem services. This effect is aggravated by climate change. Here, we integrated modelled hydrologic data, remote sensing products, climate data, and linear mixed integer optimization (MIP) to identify stewardship actions across spac...
Article
Direct link until Dec 30, 2021: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1e7Nw1L%7EGwQxlY We evaluated the effects of postfire management on forest structure in mixed-conifer forests of northeastern Washington, USA. Postfire treatments were harvest-only, harvest combined with planting, planting-only, and postfire prescribed fire. We used aerial light detect...
Chapter
Full-text available
Fire has been an important catalyst of change in Pacific Northwest forests throughout the Holocene. The role of fire varied across this biophysically diverse region prior to European colonization, but fire exclusion and logging drastically altered forest conditions during the 19th and 20th centuries. Despite recent increases in area burned and seve...
Article
Full-text available
After a century of intensive logging, federal forest management policies were developed in the 1990s to protect remaining large trees and old forests in the western US. Today, due to rapidly changing ecological conditions, new threats and uncertainties, and scientific advancements, some policy provisions are being re‐evaluated in interior Oregon an...
Preprint
Full-text available
ContextIn fire-excluded forests across western North America, recent intense wildfire seasons starkly contrast with fire regimes of the past. The last 100 years mark a transition between pre-colonial and modern era fire regimes, providing crucial context for understanding future wildfire behavior.Objectives Using the greatest time depth of digitize...
Article
Full-text available
Stand-level spatial pattern influences key aspects of resilience and ecosystem function such as disturbance behavior, regeneration, snow retention, and habitat quality in frequent-fire pine and mixed-conifer forests. Reference sites, from both pre-settlement era reconstructions and contemporary forests with active fire regimes, indicate that freque...
Article
Full-text available
Nearshore ecosystems (e.g., mangrove forests, sea grass beds, coral reefs) are some of the most biologically diverse and ecologically productive on Earth, while providing essential goods and services to human communities. Because these ecosystems are subject to threats from both land and sea, their conservation and management requires a ridge to re...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Following a wildfire, regeneration to forest can take decades to centuries and is no longer assured in many western U.S. environments given escalating wildfire severity and warming trends. After large fire years, managers prioritize where to allocate scarce planting resources, often with limited information on the factors that drive succes...
Book
Full-text available
In 1994, a large-tree harvest standard known as the “21-inch rule” was applied to land and resource management plans of national forests in eastern Oregon and Washington (hereafter, the “east side”) to halt the loss of large, old, live, and dead trees and old forest patches. These trees and forest patches have distinct ecological, economic, and soc...
Technical Report
Full-text available
For millennia, wildfires have markedly influenced forests and non-forested landscapes of the western United States (US), and they are increasingly seen as having substantial impacts on society and nature. There is growing concern over what kinds and amounts of fire will achieve desirable outcomes and limit harmful effects on people and nature. More...
Article
Full-text available
The Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) has guided the management of 17 federal forests in the US Pacific Northwest for the past 25 years. The existing management plans for these national forests – which were amended by the NWFP – are now being evaluated for revision under the US Forest Service's 2012 planning rule. To help inform federal land managers, w...
Article
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The US Endangered Species Act has enabled species conservation but has differentially impacted fire management and rare bird conservation in the southern and western US. In the South, prescribed fire and restoration‐based forest thinning are commonly used to conserve the endangered red‐cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis; RCW), whereas in the We...
Article
Full-text available
Wildfire ecosystems are thought to be self-regulated through pattern-process interactions between ignition frequency and location, and patterns of burned and recovering vegetation. Yet, recent increases in the frequency of large wildfires call into question the application of self-organization theory to landscape resilience. Topography represents a...
Article
Full-text available
Goals of fostering ecological resilience are increasingly used to guide U.S. public land management in the context of anthropogenic climate change and increasing landscape disturbances. There are, however, few operational means of assessing the resilience of a landscape or ecosystem. We present a method to evaluate resilience using simulation model...
Article
Full-text available
Goals of fostering ecological resilience are increasingly used to guide U.S. public land management in the context of anthropogenic climate change and increasing landscape disturbances. There are, however, few operational means of assessing the resilience of a landscape or ecosystem. We present a method to evaluate resilience using simulation model...
Technical Report
Full-text available
For millennia, wildfires have markedly influenced forests and non-forested landscapes of the western United States (US), and they are increasingly seen as having substantial impacts on society and nature. There is growing concern over what kinds and amounts of fire will achieve desirable outcomes and limit harmful effects on people and nature. More...
Article
Full-text available
Across the breadth of fire science disciplines, women are leaders in fire research and development. We want to acknowledge some of these leaders to promote diversity across our disciplines. In Fire, we are also happy to announce a new Special Collection, through which we will continue to acknowledge current and future Diversity Leaders in Fire Scie...
Article
Full-text available
• Smoke from wildfires is a public health concern. Smoke affected the entire Pacific Northwest region in 2015, and again in 2017. Scientists developed the BlueSky Modeling Framework that forecasts where smoke will travel, allowing public health agencies and communities to prepare for smoke impacts. • Wildfires are here to stay. Scientists predict t...
Article
Full-text available
Knowledge of historical forest conditions and disturbance regimes improves our understanding of landscape dynamics and provides a frame of reference for evaluating modern patterns, pro- cesses, and their interactions. In the western United States, understanding historical fire regimes is particularly important given ongoing climatic changes and the...
Book
Full-text available
In this chapter, we examine the scientific basis of the assumptions, management strategies, and goals of the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP, or Plan) relative to the ecology of old-growth forests, forest successional dynamics, and disturbance processes. Our emphasis is on “coarse-filter” approaches to conservation (i.e., those that are concerned with...
Book
Full-text available
The fundamental assumption of the NWFP was that the breadth of the biological and socioeconomic strategies would achieve its biodiversity conservation and socioeconomic goals, and that those goals were also compatible with each other. Scientists and managers now have the perspective afforded by 23 years of research, monitoring, and field experience...
Article
Full-text available
Wildfire affects the health and well-being of people, yet the science behind its management grapples with uncertainties that have led to scientific debates. In particular, diverging views over how “natural” high severity fire is in conifer forests across the western US have, in some cases, impeded the effective integration of science into policy an...
Book
Full-text available
This is the executive summary of a three-volume science synthesis that addresses various ecological and social concerns regarding management of federal forests encompassed by the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP). Land managers with the U.S. Forest Service provided questions that helped guide preparation of the synthesis. It builds on the 10-, 15-, and...
Article
Full-text available
Non-native species invasions, growing human populations, and climate change are central ecological concerns in tropical island communities. The combination of these threats have led to losses of native biota, altered hydrological and ecosystem processes, and reduced ecosystem services. These threats pose complex problems to often underfunded manage...