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Wildfire and Management of Forests and Native Fishes: Conflict or Opportunity for Convergent Solutions?

Wildfire is a critical land management issue in the western United States. Efforts to mitigate the effects of altered fire regimes have led to debate over ecological restoration versus species conservation framed at the conjuncture of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and their respective management regimes. Fire-related management activities may disrupt watershed processes and degrade habitats of sensitive fishes. However, the restoration of forest structure, process, and functionality, including more natural fire regimes, might also benefit longer-term habitat complexity and the persistence of species and populations that are now only remnants of once-larger and more diverse habitat networks. Common language, clear communication of goals and objectives, and spatially explicit analyses of objectives will help identify conflicts and convergences of opportunities to enable more collaborative management. We explore this integration in the context of native fisheries and wildfire, but expect the approach to be relevant in other settings as well.

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