USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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Clint Wright

Photo of Clint WrightResearch Interests

My research interests are varied, but revolve primarily around fire ecology, quantifying vegetation as fuel and fire/vegetation dynamics. While I have a particular fondness for the dry forests of the Cascade Range and Blue Mountains in Washington and Oregon, I have also been involved in field studies in a wide variety of ecosystems in more than half of the states spread across the country.

Project Summaries

Fuel Measurement and Characterization

Photo Series-- The Natural Fuels Photo Series are field guides containing high quality stereo images and detailed fuels and vegetation data for use by fire and land management planners and scientists. To date 16 volumes have been published that represent a range of conditions in more than 40 different ecosystem types throughout the United States, Mexico, and Brazil. The data and images created for the printed versions of the different photo series are also available in a web-based application called the Digital Photo Series (DPS). The DPS provides a user-friendly interface with which to search the large fuels database that is the Natural Fuels Photo Series.

Hand Piles -- Mechanical fuel reduction treatments in dry forest types of the western United States can create excessive levels of dead and down woody material that elevate potential fire hazard. Managers are hand piling these fuels where machinery cannot be used effectively. Hand piles have different properties than machine piles. We characterized different types and sizes of hand piles at sites in the western states.

Fuelbed Mapping -- Fuelbed maps capture a snapshot in time. Effective fire management will require that we anticipate landscapes changes over time with respect to fuels and the potential effects of their change on fire hazard, biomass accumulation, carbon sequestration and other properties. We developed a model to facilitate dynamic updating of the FCCS fuelbed map for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and continue to refine the model for use in other ecosystems.

Fuel Moisture -- Moisture content of live and dead fuels influences fire behavior and fire effects. We have conducted projects to determine seasonal trends in fuel moisture content in the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast.

Fuel Treatment

Fire and Fire Surrogate Study (FFS) -- Multi-year studies are ongoing to characterize the effects of forest thinning, thinning and burning and burning only on forest structure, composition and processes at multiple sites across the United States. We have worked at FFS sites in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon extensively to explore the effects of fire and fire surrogate treatments on fuels and fire potential. We have also worked on a more modest multi-year study that was part of the CReating OPportunities (CROP) research to quantify fuel succession in thinned, small-diameter stands on the Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington.

Fire Effects

Shrub Consumption -- Smoke from prescribed and wildland fires impacts air quality, potentially degrading visibility and negatively impacting human health. CONSUME, a software tool for predicting fuel consumption and smoke emissions from fire, has dealt primarily with forest fuel types. Increased use of prescribed fire and regular occurrence of wildfire in ecosystems where shrubs are the primary fuel led us to develop empirical models in four different shrub fuel types (big sagebrush, chamise chaparral, pine flatwoods, and pitch pine scrub) for parameterizing a new version of CONSUME.

Large Pine Mortality -- Mortality of large pines following prescribed fires is of concern for fire managers; we have studied the effects of consumption of basal fuel accumulations in the west and the southeast. Pines in fire-adapted ecosystems accumulate bark flakes and other litter around their bases in the absence of periodic, low-intensity fire. This material can smolder for extended periods, potentially causing injury to fine roots and to the root and bole cambium. Depending upon the extent of the injury, a tree may be killed outright, or may be sufficiently weakened that it succumbs to drought or insect attack.

Pile Burning -- We are conducting an experiment to examine how piles change with age and how those changes affect the amount of biomass consumed, the rate of pile combustion, carbon dynamics, soil characteristics, and vegetation response under different seasonal burning conditions.  My collaborators are Dr. Zander Evans at the Forest Guild, and Dr. Karen Haubensak at Northern Arizona University.  This research is being supported by the Joint Fire Science Program.

Fire History

Teanaway River Valley, WA – I conducted a fire-scar survey of the Teanaway River area in the east Cascades of Washington to characterize the frequency, seasonality and extent of past fires over a roughly 100,000 acre area that historically burned with low and moderate severity. The data from this study were collected over a much larger area than is typically sampled in fire history research. Full text of thesis [.pdf 2.9MB]

Curriculum Vitae [.docx][.pdf]

Dissertation [.pdf 7.3 MB]


U.S. Forest Service - PNW- FERA
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:41 CST

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