Feb. 27-March 1, 2012
Santa Fe, New Mexico


The opening plenary will focus on the four conference themes: fire landscapes, fire and wildlife, fire and people, and fire and ecosystem resilience by bringing together regional experts to provide the latest information on these themes. Speakers during the opening plenary include:

Keynote Address— Philip Conners

Mr. Connors is the author of Fire Season: Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout. A decade ago Philip Connors left work as an editor at the Wall Street Journal and began working as a fire lookout in the New Mexico wilderness.  In his book, Mr. Connors recounts his days and nights in this wilderness: the eerie pleasure of being alone in his glass-walled perch with only his dog Alice for company; occasional visits from smokejumpers and long-distance hikers; the strange dance of communion and wariness with bears, elk, and other wild creatures; trips to visit the hidden graves of buffalo soldiers slain during the Apache wars of the nineteenth century; and always the majesty and might of lightning storms and untamed fire.

Arizona FireScape—Dr. Donald Falk and Brooke Gebow

Dr. Falk is an Associate Professor with the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on fire history, fire ecology, dendroecology, and restoration ecology, including multi-scale studies of fire as an ecological and physical process.

Ms. Gebow is the Southeastern Arizona Preserves Manager for The Nature Conservancy. Her job focuses on landscape-scale conservation issues in the Sky Island region, ecological restoration projects, and running preserves that are open to the public. She currently heads up the FireScape team for the Coronado National Forest and cooperators, and helps coordinate multi-jurisdictional projects that cover landscapes surrounding many of the region's mountain ranges.

Fire and Wildlife—Dr. Deborah Finch

Dr. Finch is a Program Manager and Supervisory Biologist for the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station Albuquerque Lab. Her research focuses on riparian environments, specifically evaluating the effects of fire and the removal of invasive plant species and fuel loads to reduce the risk of fire and determining the effects of those measures on TES species, water resources, soils, and interactions between different elements of the ecosystem. She evaluates how processes and functions change and how managers can improve ecosystem conditions. She is also interested in restoration, including thinning, prescribed fire, and adaptation assistance.

Fire and People—Dr. Sarah McCaffrey

Dr. McCaffrey is a Research Forester for the USFS Northern Research Station. She conducts and coordinates research to better understand the social dynamics of fire management. She is currently responsible for a National Fire Plan grant examining social acceptability of fuels treatment methods. Along with colleagues, she has initiated almost two dozen studies in a variety of ecological and geographical settings across the country, examining a range of topics including what shapes acceptability of prescribed fire and thinning, why people do or do not implement defensible space practices, and social issues around post-fire restoration.

Fire and Ecosystem Resilience—Dr. Craig Allen

Dr. Allen is a Research Ecologist at the USGS Jemez Mountain Field Station. As a place-based scientist long-stationed at Bandelier National Monument, he has been studying changes over recent and historical time in the Jemez Mountains region of New Mexico. While doing so, he recognized that trends of increased fire severity and forest die-off in the Southwest were similar to those occurring elsewhere on forested continents. As a result, he initiated collaborations, workshops, and publications involving researchers from around the world to increase scientific attention on the global phenomenon of climate-related forest mortality and associated ecological impacts.