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Simulating fuel treatment effects in dry forests of the western United States: testing the principles of a fire-safe forestAuthor(s): Morris C. Johnson; Maureen C Kennedy; David L. Peterson
Source: Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 41(6): 1018-1030
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionWe used the Fire and Fuels Extension to the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FFE-FVS) to simulate fuel treatment effects on stands in low- to midelevation dry forests (e.g., ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex. P. & C. Laws.) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) of the western United States. We evaluated treatment effects on predicted post-treatment fire behavior (fire type) and fire hazard (torching index). FFE-FVS predicts that thinning and surface fuel treatments reduced crown fire behavior relative to no treatment; a large proportion of stands were predicted to transition from active crown fire pre-treatment to surface fire post-treatment. Intense thinning treatments were predicted to be more effective than light thinning treatments. Prescribed fire was predicted to be the most effective surface fuel treatment, whereas FFE-FVS predicted no difference between no surface fuel treatment and extraction of fuels. This inability to discriminate the effects of certain fuel treatments illuminates the consequence of a documented limitation in how FFE-FVS incorporates fuel models and we suggest improvements. The concurrence of results from modeling and empirical studies provides quantitative support for "fire-safe" principles of forest fuel reduction (sensu Agee and Skinner 2005. For. Ecol. Manag. 211: 83–96).
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CitationJohnson, Morris C.; Kennedy, Maureen C; Peterson, David L. 2011. Simulating fuel treatment effects in dry forests of the western United States: testing the principles of a fire-safe forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 41(6): 1018-1030.
Keywordsfuel treatment, fire hazard, thinning treatments, fire behavior, FFE-FVS, simulation models
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