Forest managers receive requested side-by-side comparison of fuel treatments
Forest managers throughout the United Stated have asked for side-by-side comparisons of treatments to better understand the ecological and economic considerations for applying fuel-reduction and forest restoration treatments. To address this need, scientists synthesized outcomes from the national Fire and Fire Surrogates project, evaluating the consequences of commonly used fuel-reduction treatments. They found that the mechanical treatments to reduce fuel and prescribed fires produced different outcomes. In the short term, mechanical treatments were effective at reducing overstory tree density and basal area and at increasing tree diameter. Prescribed fire treatments were more effective at creating snags, killing seedlings, elevating the height to live crown ratio, and reducing surface woody fuels. Mechanical treatments followed by prescribed fire were the most effective treatment for reducing crown fire potential and predicted tree mortality. Findings indicated that if the management goal is to quickly shift stands toward conditions with fewer and larger diameter trees, less surface fuel mass, and more herbaceous species, the mechanical plus burn treatment is a reasonable alternative.
Managers who are confronted with uncertainties in selecting from a set of fuel-reduction treatments in fire-prone ecosystems now have quantified and documented results upon which to base their decisions.
Forest Service Partners