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Individual Highlight

Analyses of landscape management strategies for mixed-severity fire regime forests in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California leads to new management and policy paradigms for fire

Photo of A prescribed burn near Sisters, Oregon. Jeff Kline, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.A prescribed burn near Sisters, Oregon. Jeff Kline, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.Snapshot : Nine strategies aimed at reconciling potentially conflicting management goals for forests having mixed-severity fire regimes are being used in discussions informing a variety of agency and collaborative planning efforts in the region.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Hessburg, Paul F., Sr.Spies, Thomas
Research Location : Oregon, Washington, California
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1161


Increasingly, objectives for forests with moderate- or mixed-severity fire regimes are to restore successionally diverse landscapes that are resistant and resilient to current and future stressors. Closed-canopy, multi-layered patches that develop in hot, dry summer environments are vulnerable to droughts, and they increase landscape vulnerability to insect outbreaks and severe wildfires; however, these same patches provide habitat for species such as the northern spotted owl, which has benefited from increased habitat area. Manipulating these forests to promote development of larger patches of older, larger, and more widely-spaced trees with diverse understories will increase landscape resistance to severe fires, and enhance wildlife habitat for underrepresented conditions. Regional and local planning will be critical for gauging risks, evaluating trade-offs, and restoring dynamics that can support these and other species. Tools to achieve restoration objectives include managed wildfire, prescribed burning, and variable density thinning at small to large scales. Specifics on ''how much and where?" will vary according to physiographic, topographic and historical templates, and regulatory requirements, and be determined by means of a socio-ecological process.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Deschutes National Forest
  • Pacific Southwest Research Station
  • Oregon State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Rocky Mountain Tree Ring Research
  • University of Montana
  • University of Washington