Imagining the future of Colorado's forests: beetles, wildfire, and people
Bark beetles and wildfires are natural components of Rocky Mountain forested landscapes. The increased incidence of drought in the coming decades will both make trees more susceptible to insect infestations and extend the length and severity of the fire season. I will describe how Colorado Front Range landscapes have changed following recent outbreaks and fires, and speculate on what we might expect to see in our future forests. I will discuss land management and policy challenges brought by the "wildfire problem," and argue that the goal of forest management and policy should be to bring landscapes to the point where fire can return to its natural role.
Bio: Monique Rocca is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at CSU. Her areas of expertise include fire ecology and management, forest restoration, plant community ecology, and landscape ecology. Monique studies how plant communities and landscapes change through time. Ongoing projects focus on understanding the "future forest" following pine beetle outbreaks, recent wildfire, forest thinning treatments, and climate change.
Monique teaches CSU courses in wildland fire management, fire behavior, and forest and fire ecology. She has helped to develop national education standards for practitioners in ecologically-based fire management. She recently authored a technical input for the National Climate Assessment on future fire regimes and impacts on forests in the Rocky Mountain region.
Monique has a bachelors degree in Biology from Stanford University. She earned her Ph.D. in Ecology from Duke University, where she studied the impacts of prescribed fires on plant communities in Sequoia National Park. She has been at CSU since 2005.