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Individual Highlight

Testing Fuel Treatments in Boreal Forests

Field crew measure the amount of remaining fuel on the forest floor after a prescribed burn on Nenana Ridge, Alaska. Roger Ottmar, Forest ServiceSnapshot : A first-of-its-kind study tests the effects of fuel treatment on fuel consumption and fire behavior in Alaska's boreal forest

Principal Investigators(s) :
Ottmar, Roger D. 
Research Location : Alaska
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 84


Mechanical and manual fuel treatments have become the preferred strategy for reducing fire hazards in the boreal forest. Before this study, however, the actual effects of these fuel treatments on fire behavior and fuel consumption in boreal forests had not been measured. To fill this gap, scientists assessed two major fuel treatment options: thinning trees and mechanical shearing of trees and shrubs.

The assessment was done by measuring fire behavior and consumption of fuels on the forest floor after a stand-replacement, prescribed fire. Scientists found that both treatments decreased fire behavior, although the thinning treatments were the more effective of the two. The Alaska Fire Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Alaska State Division of Forestry are using these findings to develop policies that will apply the most effective and least costly fuel treatment to the landscape for community protection from wildfire.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Rocky Mountain Research Station
  • Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service
  • State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game
  • State of Alaska, Division of Forestry
  • University of Alaska

Program Areas