Cone Fire Burns Experimental Forest
(Susanville, CALIF.) The Cone Fire that began on Thursday, September 26, on the Lassen National Forest (N.F.), is providing wildland fire experts and forestry researchers a unique view of the effects of fuel treatments on an active wildfire and the fire’s effects on the forest ecosystem.
This situation is unique due to the fact that the fire is burning in areas on the Lassen N.F. that have received extensive fuel treatments including prescribed fire and tree thinning. The fire is also burning in the (BMEF), which was created in 1934 to study extensive pine forest ecosystems.
Initial observations indicate that the experimental forest experienced a high intensity burn in areas that received no treatment. The timber stands that had been treated with thinning, prescribed fire, or both experienced a low intensity ground fire, resulting in lower tree mortality. Initial observations indicate that the treatments were very effective in slowing down and sometimes even stopping the fire.
The BMEF is an active research project within the forest and is one of the few forests in America with more than 50 years of recorded data. Experimental treatments were conducted on twelve 250-acre plots. Each of the 250-acre research plots was mechanically thinned and half were treated by prescribed fire.
The last sizeable fire within the experimental forest was in 1910. 1,600 acres of the 2,000-acre Cone Fire burned in the Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest. Pacific Southwest (PSW) Station scientist Bill Oliver, along with Eagle Lake District Ranger Bob Andrews, and District Silviculturist Al Vazquez, surveyed the burned portions of the experimental forest and provided the initial observations.
Bill Oliver realizes that the Cone Fire gives scientists an opportunity to evaluate and record the effects of the fuel treatments on areas later impacted by wildfire. In November, Oliver will be bringing a scientific team to the burned treatment areas to assess the effects. “We need to analyze the treated and untreated areas that burned and document those findings,” Oliver said Saturday afternoon.
The NorCal Interagency Incident Management Team II will be actively managing the Cone Fire for the next few days and is available to conduct media tours of the burned area. Please contact Cone Fire Information at 530-257-3719 or Susanville Interagency Fire Center at 530-257-5575 to arrange for a tour.
Additional information on the Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest can be accessed on the Internet at www.redding.psw.fs.fed.us/bmef/html, or call
Fire in Treated Area Fire in Untreated Area