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Effectiveness of Prescribed Fire as a Fuel Treatment in Californian Coniferous ForestsAuthor(s): Nicole M. Vaillant; JoAnn Fites-Kaufman; Scott L. Stephens
Source: In: Andrews, Patricia L.; Butler, Bret W., comps. 2006. Fuels Management-How to Measure Success: Conference Proceedings. 28-30 March 2006; Portland, OR. Proceedings RMRS-P-41. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 465-476
Publication Series: Proceedings (P)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
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DescriptionEffective fire suppression for the past century has altered forest structure and increased fuel loads. Prescribed fire as a fuels treatment can reduce wildfire size and severity. This study investigates how prescribed fire affects fuel loads, forest structure, potential fire behavior, and modeled tree mortality at 80th, 90th, and 97.5th percentile fire weather conditions on eight National Forests in California. Potential fire behavior and effects were modeled using Fuel Management Analyst. Prescription burning did not significantly change forest structure at most sites. Total fuel loads (litter, duff, 1, 10, 100, and 1000-hour) were reduced by 23 to 78 percent across the sites. This reduction in fuels altered potential fire behavior by reducing rate of spread, flame length, and fireline intensity. Increased torching index values coupled with decreased fuel loads reduced crown fire potential post-treatment in some stands. Predicted tree mortality decreased post-treatment as an effect of reduced potential fire behavior and fuel loads. With the vast forested areas classified at high risk for catastrophic wildland fire in California, it is most efficient to target stands that benefit the most from treatment.
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CitationVaillant, Nicole M.; Fites-Kaufman, JoAnn; Stephens, Scott L. 2006. Effectiveness of Prescribed Fire as a Fuel Treatment in Californian Coniferous Forests. In: Andrews, Patricia L.; Butler, Bret W., comps. 2006. Fuels Management-How to Measure Success: Conference Proceedings. 28-30 March 2006; Portland, OR. Proceedings RMRS-P-41. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 465-476
Keywordsfire, fire ecology, fuels management, fire suppression, prescribed fire, fuels treatment, Fuel Management Analyst
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