Fire Professor Earns Lifetime Achievement Award

Tuesday, December 20 2011


MOSCOW, Idaho – Stephen Bunting, professor of fire and rangeland ecology and management at the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources, received the Association of Fire Ecology’s Harold Biswell Award Nov. 16 at the Great Basin Fire Ecology Conference in Snowbird, Utah.

The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to fire ecology and management in the U.S. and who have inspired and mentored a generation of fire ecologists. Their contributions may be in research, management, teaching, service, outreach or a combination of these areas.

Bunting has served the University of Idaho in the fields of rangeland management and fire ecology and management for 33 years and is a recognized leader in fire ecology and prescribed fire planning and execution in canyon grassland, sagebrush steppe and juniper woodland ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest and northern Great Basin.

“Steve has several long-term projects that not only bring distinction to the University of Idaho as a land grant university, but benefit people and the land across Idaho and the interior West,” said Kurt Pregitzer, College of Natural Resources dean. “For the last 14 years, Steve has studied the influence of fire on the sagebrush-juniper landscapes on the Owyhee Plateau in southwestern Idaho. Steve’s results are helping Owyhee land managers make informed decisions about prescribed burning and grazing programs.”

Recently, Nevada and Idaho citizens benefited from Bunting’s fire ecology expertise when he and other scientists published an informative report for the U.S. Geological Survey focused on interactions among livestock grazing, vegetation type and fire behavior in the Murphy Wildlife Fire Complex. The Murphy Fire burned more than 600,000 acres in 2007.

He routinely teaches to practicing professionals in the state, region and across the west on fire and rangeland ecology topics. They often seek his expertise in prescribed fire, the effects of wildfires and implications for management before and after fires. He has published more than a dozen articles in refereed journals and has numerous other professional publications.

Bunting’s professional reach expands internationally to South America and Europe, where he conducted vegetation research in central Argentina and in maritime pine forests of northern Portugal.

Bunting holds several honors and awards, including the Heady Professorship from 1997-2002, a University of Idaho award recognizing rangeland ecological research activity. Bunting has twice been honored with the University of Idaho Alumni Association Award for Excellence recognizing achievement in graduate and undergraduate student mentoring. Many of his graduate students are now leaders in the U.S., as well as in other countries.

Additionally, Bunting is a highly recognized professional within the Society for Range Management, earning some of the society’s top honors, including the 1986 Society for Range Management W.R. Chapline Research Award and the 2000 Society for Range Management Idaho Section Outstanding Achievement Award.
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