Focusing only on small trees is not an economical or effective way to reduce fire hazard
Increasingly large and severe wildfires threaten millions of forested acres throughout the West. Under certain conditions, mechanical thinning can address these hazardous conditions while providing opportunities to both obtain wood products and create renewable energy from the removed biomass. To help identify these opportunities, PNW scientists created an analysis framework called FIA BioSum that uses the nationwide Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) database and allows forest managers to simultaneously assess the effectiveness of fuel treatments, the location and capacity of processing facilities, and project returns on investments. For example, BioSum assessments of treatments to reduce fire hazard in southern Oregon and northern California found fuel treatments that included removal of trees 10 inches or larger in diameter more effectively reduced fire hazard and were more economical than treatments focused only on smaller trees.
BioSum has a number of external users. The city of Lakeview, Oregon, used customized BioSum analyses to support biomass plant capacity decisions. The California Department of Forestry used BioSum to evaluate forest practices policy options. And, BioSum has been used throughout Arizona and New Mexico in planning and to attract bioenergy investment capital.