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Individual Highlight

How well will mastication reduce fire hazard

Photo of Snapshot : Mechanical mastication of standing shrubs and small trees is widely used as a method to reduce fire hazard. The resulting fuelbeds are poorly represented by standard fire behavior fuel models. Customized fuel models were developed to provide managers the ability to more accurately predict fire behavior and effects in masticated fuel beds.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Knapp, Eric E. 
Research Location : Oroville Ranger District, Plumas National Forest, Pacific Southwest Region
Research Station : Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW)
Year : 2011
Highlight ID : 376


Mechanical mastication that converts standing shrub and small tree fuels into compact surface fuels is thought to moderate fire behavior and, thus, is widely used as a method to reduce fire hazard. Whether standard fuel models can be used to predict the resulting fire behavior and effects in these fuel beds is poorly understood. Prescribed burns in masticated fuels were used at two sites in northern California to study effects on fire behavior and residual trees. Custom fuel models provided a better prediction of fire behavior variables than standard fuel models. Under wildfire conditions, computer simulations using the custom models predict that mastication may be useful as a tool for moderating fire behavior but does little to ameliorate fire effects. This works shows managers that further reducing the masticated material with prescribed burns could help better achieve the objectives of reducing fire hazard while improving resilience of the remaining stand to wildfire.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • of Forestry and Wildland Resources, Humboldt State University, W.M. Beatty and Associates, Inc

Program Areas