The Southern Blue Ridge Fire Learning Network: a collaborative partnership to restore fire-adapted ecosystems and build resilient forests and communities in the Southern Blue RidgeThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The Southern Blue Ridge Fire Learning Network (SBR FLN) is a cooperative program between the Forest Service, the Department of the Interior agencies, and The Nature Conservancy. Its goal is to restore forests and grasslands and to make (human) communities safer from fire. Since 2007, the SBR FLN has engaged Federal, State, and private partners to integrate science and local knowledge. Eight landscape teams focus on restoring pine and pine oak forests, primarily through prescribed burning. Common vegetation maps/models are used to identify areas most in need of restoration, and to develop a common vision of restoration needs across the region. A burn prioritization tool (“ecomath”) has been developed based on these maps in most landscapes. The modeling has enhanced our understanding of why and where fire is needed, focused planning, and begun to broaden support for burning and restoration through a systematic approach that can be explained. A network of monitoring plots tracks the effectiveness of restoration treatments. A partnership with the Consortium for Appalachian Fire Managers and Scientists (CAFMS) has accelerated transfer of knowledge through workshops, field trips, and webinars. The SBR FLN is currently expanding and integrating some of its activities with the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network.