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An Evaluation of the Forest Service Hazardous Fuels Treatment Program

Photo of One year after a prescribed fire at a study site on the Plumas National Forest, California. Joe Larson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.One year after a prescribed fire at a study site on the Plumas National Forest, California. Joe Larson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : Are fuel management treatments implemented broadly enough as well as sited correctly?A core goal of the Cohesive Strategy is to manage fuels at the landscape scale to restore and maintain fire-resilient landscapes that are compatible with their historical fire return interval. Safe, effective, and efficient wildfire response can be facilitated by hazard reduction through fuel treatments, including prescribed burning and mechanical tree removal. Scientists evaluated the efficacy ofthe Forest Service's fuels program’s in achieving these goals by assessing both treatment capacity and location.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Vaillant, Nicole 
Research Location : National
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1071

Summary

Under the guidance of the National Fire Plan, the use of fuel treatments to reduce the likelihood of uncharacteristic fires by the Forest Service has nearly doubled since its inception in 2001. However, results of this national assessment suggest that the rate of fuel treatment implementation needs to be increased and that proactive wildfire management needs to be an important part of the solution. From 2008 to 2012, about 2 percent of National Forest System lands were disturbed annually by fuel treatments and wildfire. This equates to half of the area that would have been expected to burn historically. The highest 21 wildfire hazard classes had the lowest percentage of area treated and the highest incidence of wildfire suggesting that an alternative distribution of fuel treatment locations will likely improve program effectiveness.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Washington Office Fuels Management
 

Strategic
Program Areas

Priority
Areas