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Fuel reduction management practices in riparian areas of the western USA

Stone, Katharine R.; Pilliod, David S.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Wollrab, Sherry P.; Young, Michael K. 2010. Fuel reduction management practices in riparian areas of the western USA. Environmental Management. 46: 91-100.

Two decades of uncharacteristically severe wildfires have caused government and private land managers to actively reduce hazardous fuels to lessen wildfire severity in western forests, including riparian areas. Because riparian fuel treatments are a fairly new management strategy, we set out to document their frequency and extent on federal lands in the western U.S. Seventy-four USDA Forest Service Fire Management Officers (FMOs) in 11 states were interviewed to collect information on the number and characteristics of riparian fuel reduction treatments in their management district. Just under half of the FMOs surveyed (43%) indicated that they were conducting fuel reduction treatments in riparian areas. The primary management objective listed for these projects was either fuel reduction (81%) or ecological restoration and habitat improvement (41%), though multiple management goals were common (56%). Most projects were of small extent (93%<300 acres), occurred in the wildlandurban interface (75%), and were conducted in ways to minimize negative impacts on species and habitats. The results of this survey suggest that managers are proceeding cautiously with treatments. To facilitate project planning and implementation, managers recommended early coordination with resource specialists, such as hydrologists and fish and wildlife biologists. Well-designed monitoring of the consequences of riparian fuel treatments on fuel loads, fire risk, and ecological effects is needed to provide a scientifically-defensible basis for the continued and growing implementation of these treatments.

Keywords: wildfire, fuel reduction, prescribed fire, thinning, riparian

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Fuel reduction management practices in riparian areas of the western USA
Electronic Publish Date: August 16, 2010
Last Update:
August 16, 2010

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