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Assessing the Need, Costs, and Potential Benefits of Fuels Reduction Treatments

Issues:Stand of trees

  • Millions of acres of western forests are at risk of uncharacteristically severe fires.
  • Ecological, social, and economic considerations are important in evaluating treatment options for these lands.

Study Description:
This project will develop methods to use existing data and modeling systems to evaluate forest conditions, establish a suite of proposed treatments, estimate relative treatment costs, and project forest conditions into the future. Forest Inventory and Analysis data for New Mexico and Montana will be used in the first case study to determine existing forest conditions. These states were chosen because they both have recently completed inventories, but the Montana industry is well adapted to using small diameter wood while the New Mexico industry is not.


  • Quantify existing conditions for major forest types and need for hazard reduction treatment.
  • Develop and compare alternative fuels reduction prescriptions.
  • Determine treatment costs.
  • Determine potential revenue from timber products generated from harvest treatments.
  • Compare the future mix of timber products under alternative treatment scenarios
  • Describe the potential for analyzing non-commodity resources.

firefighter setting controlled fire.  Expected Outcomes:
The methodologies developed during the study will be widely applicable to federal, state, and private land managers throughout the U.S.big rigs working in the trees harvesting  small diameter trees.
The protocols will help resource managers develop analyses of treatment needs over a wide range of spatial scales, and assess the potential ecological and economic outcomes of these treatments into the future.

Contacts:Jamie Barbour or Roger Fight PNW Station 503-808-2000. University of Montana Carl Fiedler 406-243-5602, Chuck Keegan 406-243-5113.