Scientists Assess Effectiveness of Fuels Reduction Treatments in California
Forest service scientists evaluated surface fuel load, vegetation cover, and forest structure before and after mechanical and fire-only treatments over eight years across 11 national forests in California: Inyo, Klamath, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Lassen, Modoc, Mendocino, Plumas, San Bernardino, Shasta-Trinity, Stanislaus, and Tahoe. Eight years after treatment, total surface fuel load returned to 67 to 79 percent and 55 to 103 percent of pretreatment levels following fire-only and mechanical treatments respectively.
Fire-only treatments warranted re-entry at eight years to reduce accumulating fuel, understory vegetation and small-diameter trees. This interval would maintain and extend the intended effectiveness of fuels reduction treatments. In general, mechanical treatments were more effective but elevated surface fuel loads, canopy base height reductions in later years and lack of restoration of fire as an ecological process suggest that that adding prescribed fire to this treatment would be beneficial.
This information can be used by land managers and practitioners when preparing specialist reports for the NEPA process.
|Fuel accumulation and forest structure change following hazardous fuel reduction treatments throughout California||(publication)|
Forest Service Partners