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News Release October 14, 2003
GSA Release No. 03-27
Contact: Christa Stratton


Wildland Fire Impacts on Watersheds

A Special Conference of the Geological Society of America

Sheraton Denver Tech Center Hotel  •  Englewood, CO  •  October 21-23, 2003
I. Introduction III. Field Session
II. Meeting Highlights IV. Support for Journalists

 I. Introduction

On October 21-23, scientists will gather with land managers, resource specialists, and fire management planners in Englewood, CO, for Wildland Fire Impacts on Watersheds: Understanding, Planning, and Response. The meeting will focus on processes set in motion in the aftermath of wildland fire. Topics include landslides, soil erosion, debris flows, flooding, degraded water quality, and other environmental issues. Their impacts will be examined through a combination of talks and an all-day field session at the Hayman fire area and other recent burn sites in Colorado.

The meeting is sponsored by the Geological Society of America, headquartered in Boulder, CO. Participating organizations include the International Association of Wildland Fire, USDA Forest Service, US Geological Survey, American Water Works Association, Society of American Foresters, and The Nature Conservancy.

Science and environment writers are invited to attend sessions and participate in all or part of the field session. Registration is complimentary.

 II. Meeting Highlights

Top national experts in wildland fire rehabilitation will speak at the conference. Some highlights include:

Overview of risks to forest and rangeland watersheds and impacts on water quality
James E. Hubbard, State Forester, Colorado State Forest Service
Dwight Atkinson, Environmental Protection Agency
How burn severity and its aftermath is eased by thinning and other pre-fire management techniques
Kevin Ryan, USDA Forest Service (and others)
Evaluating watershed vulnerability
Erv Gasser, National Park Service (and others)
Mitigation of hazards including flooding, landslides, and erosion
Pete Robichaud, USDA Forest Service

Keynote Speaker Paul Perkins, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University, will discuss impacts of the devastating Canberra wildfires of January 2003.

 III. Field Session

An all-day field session takes place Thursday, October 23, 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Participants will tour the Hayman fire area, severely burned in 2002, and view research projects underway that will help determine future treatment strategies. Also included in the tour is the Hi Meadow fire area, burned in 2000, and the Trumbull area near Deckers where the Colorado State Forest Service is thinning trees to reduce fuel loads.

 IV. Support for Journalists

  1. GSA Media Registration Policies and Procedures
    Eligibility for complimentary media registration is as follows, all of whom have equal access:
    • Working press representing bona fide news media with a press card, letter, or business card from the publication.

    • Freelance science writers, presenting a current membership card from NASW, ISWA, regional affiliates of NASW, or evidence of work pertaining to science published in 2002 or 2003.
    • PIOs of scientific societies, educational institutions and government agencies.
    Representatives of the business side of news media, publishing houses, and for-profit corporations must register at the main registration desk and pay the appropriate fees.
    Eligible persons are encouraged to download and complete the registration form located on the Wildland Fire Web site ( Completed forms and evidence of eligibility can be faxed to Ann Cairns, GSA Director of Communications, at 303-357-1074 or e-mailed to
    Field session space is limited. Media should contact Diane Matt, GSA's conference coordinator, regarding availability. Diane can be reached at 303-357-1014 or

  2. Diane Matt will provide media with assistance on site, as needed, although GSA will not operate a newsroom facility at the conference. She can be reached during the meeting at 303-503-7540.


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