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Prescribed Fire & Fuel Treatment Effectiveness & Effects Monitoring Program

Since the Fall of 2000, the Pacific Southwest Region Fire and Aviation Management has conducted systematic monitoring of fire effects and effectiveness of fuel treatments across the region. Forty-three projects on every national forest in California have been monitored as of Fall, 2004. This includes a variety of prescribed fire and mechanical fuel treatment projects in chaparral, forested, and mixed shrub/forested ecosystems.

The objectives of the monitoring include: collecting baseline information on fuels, wildlife habitat, and vegetation composition and structure before treatments, gathering and assessing changes in fuels, wildlife habitat and vegetation after treatment, and development of a cost-effective approach to address common questions on effectiveness of fuel treatments, appropriate fuel models for post-treatment conditions, and improved tree mortality projections. Emphasis was placed on interagency coordination by using similar methodology as the National Park Service, which has a long history of monitoring in California.

To date 179 plots have been collected pre-treatment, 51 plots first year post-treatment, and 25 plots second year post treatment. Analysis is currently underway on data collected this summer and will greatly expand the ability to compare pre- and post-treatments. A report on the latest findings is expected next spring.

Figures 1-3 represent a succession of pre-treatment, treatment, and post-treatment photos for the same mixed conifer forest project in Northern California. Fuels were masticated before the prescribed fire treatment.

Figures 4-5 represent pre- and post-treatment chaparral in Southern California.

The 2012 Chips Fire, California: A Case Study of Fire Behavior. 2012 Jo Ann Fites, Carol Ewell, Ryan Bauer.

Full Report (pdf)

The Effectiveness and Limitations of Fuel Modeling Using the Fire and Fuels Extension to the Forest Vegetation Simulator. 2013. Erin K. Noonan-Wright, Nicole M. Vaillant, and Alicia L. Reiner
Report (pdf)

Prescribed fire effects on field-derived and simulated forest carbon stocks over time. 2013. Nicole M. Vaillant, Alicia R. Reiner, Erin K. Noonan-Wright
Report (pdf)

Effect of Fuel Treatments on Fuels and Potential Fire Behavior in California, USA , National Forests. 2013. Nicole M. Vaillant, JoAnn Fites-Kaufman, Alicia L. Reiner, Erin K. Noonan-Wright, and Scott N. Dailey.
Report (pdf)