Skip to Main Content
A quantitative comparison of forest fires in central and northern California under early (1911–1924) and contemporary (2002–2015) fire suppressionAuthor(s): Brandon M. Collins; Jay D. Miller; Eric E. Knapp; David B. Sapsis
Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
Download Publication (645.0 KB)
DescriptionMost studies of fire-regime changes in western North American forests rely on a reference period that pre-dates Euro-American settlement. Less is known about fire-regime changes relative to the early onset of major change agents, i.e. fire suppression and timber harvesting. We digitised ledgers that contained over 18 000 individual fire records from 1911 through 1924 (early suppression period). We performed analyses comparing a subset of these fire records, largely in mixed-conifer forests, to similar records from 2002 through 2015 (contemporary period). Mapped ignition frequencies indicated similar geographic patterns for lightning-caused fires between periods, but notable shifts in certain areas for human-caused fires. There was no statistical difference in annual number of human-caused fires between the early suppression and contemporary time periods. However, there was a major shift in the distribution of burned area across fire size classes. Fires >12 145 ha accounted for 0–6% of total burned area in the early suppression period, and 53–73% in the contemporary period. Also, both the total number and percentage of fires >2024 ha occurred significantly earlier in the year in the contemporary period. These shifts are likely driven by large-scale changes in fuel loads and continuity, and possibly exacerbated by climatic warming.
- You may send email to email@example.com 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.
CitationCollins, Brandon M.; Miller, Jay D.; Knapp, Eric E.; Sapsis, David B. 2019. A quantitative comparison of forest fires in central and northern California under early (1911–1924) and contemporary (2002–2015) fire suppression. International Journal of Wildland Fire. https://doi.org/10.1071/WF18137.
Keywordsdeparture, fire exclusion, fire statistics, mixed conifer forest
- Contrasting the role of human- and lightning-caused wildfires on future fire regimes on a Central Oregon landscape
- Socioecological transitions trigger fire regime shifts and modulate fire–climate interactions in the Sierra Nevada, USA, 1600–2015 CE
- Fire history of oakpine forests in the Lower Boston Mountains, Arkansas, USA
XML: View XML