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The way to a healthy future for National Forest ecosystems in the West : what role can silviculture and prescribed fire play?Author(s): Douglas W. MacCleery
Source: In: L. G. Eskew, comp. Forest health through silviculture: proceedings of the 1995 National Silviculture Workshop, Mescalero, New Mexico, May 8-11, 1995. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-GTR-267. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 37-45
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station
PDF: Download Publication (715 KB)
DescriptionThe 1994 wildfires in the U.S. West have highlighted a problem of forest health and fuel buildups that has been increasing for decades. In many Western forest ecosystems, forest biomass per acre has risen substantially since the 1940s and many forests have dense, fire-prone understories. If current trends continue, there will be: 1) increasing risks to National Forest ecosystems from insects, disease, and conflagration events, 2) a rising toll of loss and degradation of watershed values and wildlife habitats from abnormally intense wildfires, as well as continued losses in the biological diversity of vegetation types that were historically characterized by frequent, low intensity, fires, 3) increased risks to the human communities located in forested areas and to the fire fighters sent in to protect them, and 4) significant and increasing losses to taxpayers in fire suppression costs and resource values.
Major barriers to taking the management actions needed to effectively address forest ecosystem health include: 1) erroneous public perceptions about the nature of American forests prior to European settlement, 2) piecemeal and uncoordinated implementation of federal environmental laws, 3) focusing on the shortterm environmental impacts of projects, while ignoring the long-term risks of failure to take the actions necessary to restore forest health, and 4) lack of consistent, reliable information on the specific extent of forest health problems, and on the treatment measures needed to address them.
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CitationMacCleery, Douglas W. 1995. The way to a healthy future for National Forest ecosystems in the West : what role can silviculture and prescribed fire play?. In: L. G. Eskew, comp. Forest health through silviculture: proceedings of the 1995 National Silviculture Workshop, Mescalero, New Mexico, May 8-11, 1995. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-GTR-267. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 37-45
Keywordsforest health, forest ecology, ecosystems, forest fires, prescribed fire, silviculture, forest management
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