Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Chris StallingRobert E. Keane; Molly Retzlaff
    Date: 2017
    Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 400: 38-47.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (2.0 MB)


    It is generally assumed that severe disturbances predispose damaged forests to high fire hazard by creating heavy fuel loading conditions. Of special concern is the perception that surface fuel loadings become high as recently killed trees deposit foliage and woody material on the ground and that these high fuel loadings may cause abnormally severe fires. This study evaluated effects of severe, exogenous disturbance events, namely fire and beetles, on future fuel conditions through biannual field collections. We measured surface fuel deposition and accumulation rates for a number of forest types after severe wildfires, Douglas-fir beetle outbreaks, and mountain pine beetle outbreaks to quantitatively describe fuel dynamics for up to 10 years after the disturbance. Fuel deposition was measured from semiannual collections of fallen biomass sorted into six fuel components (fallen foliage, twigs, branches, large branches, logs, and all other material) from a network of seven, one meter square litter traps established on 15 sites across the northern Rocky Mountains USA. We also measured fuel loadings of the same six fuel components on each plot every year until the end of the study. Results show that most foliage material fell within the first one to two years after disturbance and surface fuel loadings did not appear to increase substantially at any point during the 10 years of this study. Large woody material greater than 75 mm diameter was found infrequently in the litter traps. Our results suggest that there is little increase in fire hazard during the first 10 years after severe disturbance in the study sites sampled for this study.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to 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.


    Stalling, Chris; Keane, Robert E.; Retzlaff, Molly. 2017. Surface fuel changes after severe disturbances in northern Rocky Mountain ecosystems. Forest Ecology and Management. 400: 38-47.


    Google Scholar


    fuel dynamics, fuel accumulation, deposition, disturbance

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page