USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Region

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The Threat of Deforested Conditions in California's National Forests

Selected Wildfires: 2000-2011

Tree covered forest land provides many values including: wildlife habitat, stable watersheds, cleaner air, and wood fiber for energy generation and building materials. This site offers an assessment of tree loss due to wildfires and indirectly the resultant broad scale losses for all the benefits that forested lands offer. The intent is to increase awareness of the levels of deforested conditions occurring on National forests in California (see map), improve communication among concerned citizens, and begin to identify reforestation needs as part of the broader ecosystem restoration objective. This effort focuses on the wildfires that occurred during the period 2000-2011 on national forests in California.

The 18 national forests in the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service (Region 5) experience well over 1,000 wildfires every year, most of which are relatively small. The largest 10 to 20 fires typically account for 90% of the total acreage burned. Therefore, the work displayed on this site concentrates on fires that burned more than 1,000 acres of National Forest forestland (land that grows trees).

The assessment on this web site utilizes estimates developed immediately post-fire. The imagery used to make these estimates may be acquired late in the year when sun angles are low due to fire containment dates. Fire effects on north facing slopes can be hidden due to topographic shadows caused by low sun angles. Therefore, high severity fire effects in these data may be under-represented. Low to moderate severity in dense stands on east, west, or south aspects may also be under-represented due to a low sun illumination angle. This assessment includes fire incidents that burn more than 1,000 acres of forestland on national forests. These same fire incidents will be remapped one-year post-fire by the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) program (

Pie chart displaying post fire condition for 108 selected large fires: 2000-2010, 3,450,000 total acres.  Forested Condition (survived the fire): 1,060,000 acres or 31 percent.  Deforested Condition (did not survive the fire): 520,000 acres or 15 percent.  Not Forestland (shrubland, grassland, etc.): 1,051,000 acres or 30 percent.  Not National Forest (other ownership): 820,000 acres or 24 percent.


Column chart displaying trend of acreage burned into a deforested condition on National Forests in California.  The X axis is the year and the Y axis is acres.  Year 2000 is 15,628 acres.  Year 2001 is 28,186 acres.  Year 2002 is 70,685 acres.  Year 2003 is 33,915 acres.  Year 2004 is 16,188 acres.  Year 2005 is 892 acres.  Year 2006 is 51,423 acres.  Year 2007 is 103,017 acres.  Year 2008 is 154,525 acres.  Year 2009 is 41,812 acres.  Year 2010 is 3,387 acres.


Column chart.


USDA Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Region
Last Modified: Friday, 13 April 2012 at 18:33:21 CDT

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