Skip to Main Content
Due to a lapse in federal funding, this USDA website will not be actively updated. Once funding has been reestablished, online operations will continue.
Fuel treatment impacts on estimated wildfire carbon loss from forests in Montana, Oregon, California, and ArizonaAuthor(s): Scott L. Stephens; Ralph E. J. Boerner; Jason J. Moghaddas; Emily E. Y. Moghaddas; Brandon M. Collins; Christopher B. Dow; Carl Edminster; Carl E. Fiedler; Danny L. Fry; Bruce R. Hartsough; Jon E. Keeley; Eric E. Knapp; James D. McIver; Carl N. Skinner; Andrew Youngblood
Source: Ecosphere. 3(5): 1-17, Article 38
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
View PDF (1.76 MB)
DescriptionUsing forests to sequester carbon in response to anthropogenically induced climate change is being considered across the globe. A recent U.S. executive order mandated that all federal agencies account for sequestration and emissions of greenhouse gases, highlighting the importance of understanding how forest carbon stocks are influenced by wildfire. This paper reports the effects of the most common forest fuel reduction treatments on carbon pools composed of live and dead biomass as well as potential wildfire emissions from six different sites in four western U.S. states. Additionally, we predict the median forest product life spans and uses of materials removed during mechanical treatments. Carbon loss from modeled wildfire-induced tree mortality was lowest in the mechanical plus prescribed fire treatments, followed by the prescribed fire-only treatments. Wildfire emissions varied from 10-80 Mg/ha and were lowest in the prescribed fire and mechanical followed by prescribed fire treatments at most sites. Mean biomass removals per site ranged from approximately 30-60 dry Mg/ha; the median lives of products in first use varied considerably (from <10 to >50 years). Our research suggests most of the benefits of increased fire resistance can be achieved with relatively small reductions in current carbon stocks. Retaining or growing larger trees also reduced the vulnerability of carbon loss from wildfire. In addition, modeled vulnerabilities to carbon losses and median forest product life spans varied considerably across our study sites, which could be used to help prioritize treatment implementation.
- You may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationStephens, Scott L.; Boerner, Ralph E.J.; Moghaddas, Jason J.; Moghaddas, Emily E.Y.; Collins, Brandon M.; Dow, Christopher B.; Edminster, Carl; Fiedler, Carl E.; Fry, Danny L.; Hartsough, Bruce R.; Keeley, Jon E.; Knapp, Eric E.; McIver, James D.; Skinner, Carl N.; Youngblood, Andrew. 2012. Fuel treatment impacts on estimated wildfire carbon loss from forests in Montana, Oregon, California, and Arizona. Ecosphere. 3(5): 1-17, Article 38.
Keywordscarbon sequestration, fire suppression, fire surrogates, fuel management, mixed conifer, Pinus ponderosa, wildfire
- Fire regimes approaching historic norms reduce wildfire-facilitated conversion from forest to non-forest
- Restoring surface fire stabilizes forest carbon under extreme fire weather in the Sierra Nevada
- Restoring forest structure and process stabilizes forest carbon in wildfire-prone southwestern ponderosa pine forests
XML: View XML