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Wildfire’s Effects on California Chaparral and Management for the Future

Swift, Mackensie
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The main question, and the focus of this thesis is: “How do the natural and human systems related to California’s chaparral wildfire regimes influence ecological and social management decisions?” Due to the past management of fire, urbanization introduced into wildland areas, and the growing pressures of climate change, this issue is important because it could dramatically change the look and understanding of California’s landscapes. The aesthetic changes of a landscape post- wildfire are easy to see, however factors such as erosion and hydrology are more difficult to identify. The first goal of this paper is to address chaparral vegetation and its relationship to fire to then discuss current models for erosion and hydrologic changes in a landscape post-fire. Knowledge on these natural processes is important and require accurate data and predictions in order to plan land management actions accordingly. Knowing how chaparral landscape’s erosion and hydrology respond pre- and post-fire will indicate what to expect if fire patterns change. How do this knowledge and science inform decision making? The second goal is to look at past fire management in the United States, current management, and the future of fire management in California. With the complexity that comes with cooperation and politics among many groups, I conducted an interview with an expert in fire management and fire science to fill in the gaps of knowledge and explain the processes required for effective decision making regarding fire management in the present and future.
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University of Wyoming. Libraries