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    Description

    We had the rare opportunity to quantify the relationship between fuels and fire severity using prefire surface and canopy fuel data and fire severity data after a wildfire. The study area is a mixed-evergreen forest of southwestern Oregon with a mixed-severity fire regime. Modeled fire behavior showed that thinning reduced canopy fuels, thereby decreasing the potential for crown fire spread. The potential for crown fire initiation remained fairly constant despite reductions in ladder fuels, because thinning increased surface fuels, which contributed to greater surface fire intensity. Thinning followed by underburning reduced canopy, ladder, and surface fuels, thereby decreasing surface fire intensity and crown fire potential. However, crown fire is not a prerequisite for high fire severity; damage to and mortality of overstory trees in the wildfire were extensive despite the absence of crown fire. Mortality was most severe in thinned treatments (80%-l00%), moderate in untreated stands (53%-54%), and least severe in the thinned and underburned treatment (5%). Thinned treatments had higher fine-fuel loading and more extensive crown scorch, suggesting that greater consumption of fine fuels contributed to higher tree mortality. Fuel treatments intended to minimize tree mortality will be most effective if both ladder and surface fuels are treated.

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    Citation

    Raymond, Crystal L.; Peterson, David L. 2005. Fuel treatments alter the effects of wildfire in a mixed-evergreen forest, Oregon, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 35: 2981-2995

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