2020 Theme: IGNITE


IWFF’s 2020 theme, Ignite, offers up an opportunity to consider IWFF’s mission through a different lens. Ignite means to catch fire but also to inflame emotions. Ignite explores both facets of this definition relating to wildfire and ignitors that act with a fiery passion. Climate scientists have correlated the growing intensity of wildfires with rising global temperatures. Few places seem immune. Ignite presents a deeper understanding of wildfire mitigation and the impact wildfire has on wildlife. Most importantly, the Ignite program explores how media can play a dynamic role lifting up individuals and organizations whose leadership is inspiring communities with the desire to live responsibly with wildfire.


Coming Soon


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An Evening with Paul Hessburg

On Tuesday night of the festival, the community is invited to join us for free for a special program titled, An Evening with Paul Hessburg. This evening begins with a multimedia presentation by Research Ecologist, Paul Hessburg. Following his presentation, will be a dialogue exploring how aspects of this research can be applied locally and how wildlife is impacted.

UC Theater, UM

  • 5:30 Reception
  • 7:00 start of the presentation
  • 8:00 panel discussion followed by Q&A
  • 9:00 Late night gathering at Union Club

The Era of Megafires is a multi-media presentation that combines the research of Dr. Paul Hessburg (Pacific Northwest Research Station, U.S. Forest Service) with the visual storytelling of award-winning film company, North 40 Productions. Utilizing animations, graphics and video vignettes, this presentation is designed to engage and inspire audiences, as well as provide an effective educational tool for organizations who are working tirelessly to improve the wildfire situation. The rise of highly destructive megafires — wildfires over 100,000 acres — has become one of today’s most pressing and complex problems. Our communities, homes, businesses and even our very way of life are threatened by them. Facing the reality of this issue can be nothing short of daunting. But like all wicked problems, through education we can change the way fire comes to our forests and communities.

Moderated by Justin Angle and being recorded for The New Angle podcast



Paul Hessburg

Paul Hessburg Paul Hessburg, Phd., is a Research Ecologist with Pacific Northwest Research Station, U.S. Forest Service. He has been studying historical & modern era forests of the Inland West for the last 32 years, publishing extensively in leading journals. His work documents large changes in forest conditions and how these changes, along with climate change, have set the stage for large & severe wildfires. Paul was the recipient of the USFS 2017 R&D Deputy Chief’s Distinguished Science Award for his significant contribution to fire and landscape ecology. Paul’s recent book, Making Transparent Environmental Management Decisions, offers compelling new insights into using modern-day decision support systems to plan for forest restoration.


Serra Hoagland

Serra Hoagland serves as the Liaison Officer (Biologist) for the Rocky Mountain Research Station Missoula Fire Sciences Lab. Her duty station is based at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana. Serra worked as a Biological Scientist and served as the Tribal Relations co-point of contact for the USFS Southern Research Station. As the first Native American to graduate from Northern Arizona University with a PhD in forestry, Serra studied Mexican spotted owl habitat on tribal and non-tribal lands in the Sacramento Mountains, NM. She is involved with the Intertribal Timber Council (ITC), the American Indian Science & Engineering Society, the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society as well as The Wildlife Society. Her research interests include: traditional ecological knowledge, landscape ecology, tribal forestry, threatened and endangered species management, wildlife habitat relationships and remote sensing. Serra is Laguna Pueblo from the village of Paguate and is involved in several efforts to increase the representation of Native Americans in natural resources.


Steve Scott

Steve Scott, North 40 Productions – Steve has been part of the award-wining production team at North 40 since 2014. As writer, producer, editor, and director, he has contributed to hundreds of commercials, documentary shorts and features, including the documentaries Lifted: a ski film for the rest of us, A Lot of Fuss About a Paradean, Not For Any Price and The Era of Megafires. His film Blueblack is an IWFF 2020 selection. Based in Central Washington, he also lends his talents as a voice actor and copywriter.


Phil Higuera

Phil Higuera is an associate professor of fire ecology in the Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences at the University of Montana. He directs the PaleoEcology and Fire Ecology Lab, funded largely from the National Science Foundation and Joint Fire Science Program, and he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in fire and disturbance ecology. Work from his lab spans western North America and has revealed how fire activity varies with climate change in recent decades and the distant past, and how forest ecosystems have responded to these changes. In 2018, he was named one of Clarivate Analytics’ “highly cited scientists,” for papers published over the previous decade.


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IWFF is proud to partner with the UM Wildlife Biology program and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to present Ignite: An Evening with Paul Hessburg.