1.5 Assessing and Responding to the Impact of 2016–18 Wildfires on Agricultural Systems in the Southern Great Plains

Monday, 7 January 2019: 11:30 AM
North 224A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
David P. Brown, USDA, El Reno, OK; and L. Kos, M. O. Mattox, C. Pope, S. Pope, S. Robertson, M. A. Shafer, J. Steiner, S. Teet, J. Wang, J. Wetter, and X. Xiao

Devastating wildfires in portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas from 2016 to 2018 resulted in significant economic and environmental losses, with the agricultural sector among those most affected. The impact of the fires over this three-year period, the past and projected influence of climate variability and change on wildfire occurrence, and the linkages to socioeconomic and environmental decision-making all require assessment in order to better ascertain future risk to agricultural systems in the Southern Plains. Here, we highlight several elements of a broad-based, partner-focused response to the recent Southern Plains wildfires, coordinated through the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub, to illustrate the importance of collaborative and interdisciplinary agroecosystem networks. These highlights include: (1) reviewing the meteorological, climatological, and land use causes of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 wildfires, and assessing future projections of wildfire occurrence in the region; (2) cataloging the regional agricultural impacts of the wildfires, as well as USDA, federal agency, and other organizational responses; (3) identifying indicators of post-fire recovery at community, agricultural system, and/or ecological scales; and (4) determining lessons learned, including future risk of and vulnerability to wildfire occurrence and opportunities to inform and improve agricultural preparedness.
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