After the Smoke Clears – Resources for Addressing Post-fire Weed Invasion and Expansion

(Published 8/2012; Updated 10/2015)

Land managers of over 9 million acres* ( that are burned and burning this fire season will soon be faced with addressing the aftermath of wildfire; including a surge of invasive plants.

Catastrophic fire season of recent decades prompted a number of agencies and researchers to synthesize and expand upon the knowledge-base related to invasive pant issues following wildfires. The following is a short list of literature reviews, handbooks, and recently published research provides a starting point for exploring issues and developing management guidelines related to invasive plants following wildfires. 

*Fire Facts 2015 as of October 1, a total of 48,941 fires have burned or are burning 9,021,384 acres, mostly in the western United States.

*Fire Facts 2015
as of October 1, a total of 48,941 fires have burned or are burning 9,021,384 acres, mostly in the western United States.



Fire Management and Invasive Plants–A Handbook

USDI FIsh and Wildlife Service. 2008.
This manual provides practical guidelines for fire managers to effectively integrate invasive plant management activities into their fire management programs. Focuses on controlled burns, but also includes some information that may be useful for wildland fires. 

Integrated Noxious Weed Management After Wildfires 

Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2001. All U.S. Government Documents (Utah Regional Depository). Paper 587.
This 46-page publication describes practical and proven weed management methods that may be incorporated into a successful burned-area noxious weed management plan. Such a plan helps the land manager prevent weed establishment, mitigate the reestablishment of noxious weeds in burned areas and establish and maintain healthy plant communities.



The Fire Effects Information System

Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) has been providing reviews of scientific knowledge about fire effects since 1986. FEIS is an online collection of literature reviews on more than 1,100 species and their relationships with fire. Reviews cover plants and animals throughout the United States, providing a wealth of information for landowners and resource managers.

Reviewing the Role of Wildfire on the Occurrence and Spread of Invasive Plant Species in Wildland Areas of the Intermountain Western United States 

Rew LJ and Johnson MP. 2010. Invasive Plant Science and Management 3(4):347-364.
Authors evaluate the state of knowledge concerning how nonnative plant species establish, survive, and spread following wildfire in wildland areas for the main vegetation types of the Intermountain West. 

Wildland fire in ecosystems: fire and nonnative invasive plants

Zouhar K, Smith JK, Sutherland S, Brooks ML. 2008. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 6. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 355 p.
This state-of-knowledge review of information on relationships between wildland fire and nonnative invasive plants can assist fire managers and other land managers concerned with prevention, detection, and eradication or control of nonnative invasive plants. The 16 chapters in this volume synthesize ecological and botanical principles regarding relationships between wildland fire and nonnative invasive plants, identify the nonnative invasive species currently of greatest concern in major bioregions of the United States, and describe emerging fire-invasive issues in each bioregion and throughout the nation. 



Integrated Noxious Weed Management After Wildfires

Goodwin K, Sheley R, and Clarke J. 2002.
This extension bulletin from Montana State University describes site evaluation, revegetation, and integrated weed management after wildfire. The purpose of this publication is to describe practical and proven weed management methods that may be incorporated into a successful burned-area noxious weed management plan. 

Weed Management after Wildfire—It’s Necessary!
(presentation slides) 

Mangold J. 2011. Northern Rockies Great Basin. Prevention Workshop. April 20, 2011.
More than 40 slides presenting a science-based summary of why invasive plants can increase after fires and why it is important to manage them. 

Fire Effects on Invasive Weed Seed Germination

Lance T. Vermeire and Matthew J. Rinella USDA-ARS, Fort Keogh Livestock & Range Research Laboratory, Miles City, MT.
Quantifies fire effects on germination of surface deposited seeds of Japanese brome, spotted knapweed, Russian knapweed and leafy spurge.



Economic and Social Impacts of Wildfires and Invasive Plants in American Deserts: Lessons From the Great Basin

Brunson MW and Tanaka J. 2011. Rangeland Ecology & Management 64(5):463-470.
Authors offer a synthetic perspective on economic and social aspects of wildfire and invasive plants in American deserts, focusing on the Great Basin because greater research attention has been given to the effects of cheatgrass expansion than to other desert wildfire/invasion cycles. 

Wildfire promotes dominance of invasive giant reed (Arundo donax) in riparian ecosystems

Coffman GC, Ambrose RF and Rundel PW. 2010. Biological Invasions. Volume 12, Number 8, Pages 2723-2734. 
This study evaluates the influence of wildfire on Arundo donax invasion by investigating its relative rate of reestablishment versus native riparian species after wildfire burned riparian woodlands along the Santa Clara River in southern California in October 2003.

Response of six non-native plant species to wildfires in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA. 

Ferguson DE, Craig CL. 2010. Res. Pap. RMRSRP-78 Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 12 p. 
This paper presents early results on the response of six non-native invasive plant species to eight wildfires on six National Forests (NFs) in the northern Roc Mountains, USA.

Managing Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea stoebe)–Infested Rangeland after Wildfire

Pokorny ML, Mangold JM, Hafer J and Denny MK. 2010. Invasive Plant Science and Management 3(2):182-189. 
In this study, three herbicide application treatments (broadcast application, spot application, and no herbicide) and three seed mixture treatments (grass-only seed mix, a grass and forb seed mix, no seeding) were tested to determine the ability of herbicide and revegetation treatments to restore spotted knapweed–infested areas to desired plant communities after wildfire.  

Post-Fire Control of Invasive Plants Promotes Native Recovery in a Burned Desert Shrubland

Steers RJ and Allen EB. 2010. Restoration Ecology, 18: 334–343.
Three treatments to control invasive annual grasses and forbs were implemented in the first 3 years following a fire in creosote bush scrub vegetation.