Wildfire Risk and Fuel Treatment

Wildland fire and related natural disturbances continue to grow as a major global threat to property, lives, and ecosystem integrity. There is growing scientific evidence that climate change is in part responsible for catastrophic fire events that are increasingly common. Wildfires increase the likelihood of a wide range of adverse impacts on wildlands, including flooding, erosion, loss of key wildlife habitat and other other ecological and economic values.

WildfireWildland fire interacts with many other disturbance agents at multiple scales over space and time. For example, bark beetle and wildfire form a particularly intricate disturbance complex. Climate change, fire suppression, and other management practices over the past 100 years have altered succession and disturbance regimes, and created forest conditions that are prone to both bark beetle outbreaks and severe wildfire. From a management perspective, a clear understanding of the bark beetle–fire relationship is needed to formulate strategies to dampen the disturbance process. As federal land management agencies accelerate treatment of hazardous fuels over wide areas in the Western United States, practices such as mechanical thinning, surface fuel reduction, the reintroduction of prescribed fire, and natural fire will likely change bark beetle dynamics and bark beetle-caused tree mortality. Prescribed fire and thinning prescriptions in the dry forest types favor retention of tree species such as ponderosa pine that are hosts for a suite of bark beetles. This particular threat complex is one of many wildland fire disturbance interactions of concern to land managers.


Current WWETAC Fire Projects include:

Trees

Previous WWETAC Fire Projects include: