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Individual Highlight

Opportunities to Wield the Saw and the Flame to Restore California Forests

Photo of National Forests in the Sierra Nevada color-coded by percent of each watershed available for mechanical treatment. USDA Forest ServiceNational Forests in the Sierra Nevada color-coded by percent of each watershed available for mechanical treatment. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Researchers analyzed how different kinds of constraints on forest thinning influence opportunities to reduce wildfire risks across the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. The findings demonstrate that mechanical treatments are particularly constrained on the three of the National Forests that are first in line to revise their management plans, so judicious use of fire will be critical for restoring those landscapes. Managers can use the tool to identify strategic areas where mechanical treatments could facilitate reintroduction of beneficial fire.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Long, Jonathan W. 
Research Location : Sierra Nevada (California)
Research Station : Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW)
Year : 2015
Highlight ID : 817

Summary

Under the new forest planning rule, National Forests in the Sierra Nevada are leading the nation in revising plans to restore forest resilience and reduce wildfire risk. While the public increasingly recognizes the dangerously high levels of fuels in many forests of the Sierra Nevada, some stakeholders have suggested that managers can focus on mechanical treatment to address the problem, while others want to halt timber cutting in favor of prescribed or managed fire. This tool serves to quickly visualize and quantify the potential to use mechanical treatments in specific watersheds throughout the region. This approach should help not only evaluate the relative merits of each approach in particular areas, but it can also show how to strategically wield both the saw and the flame together to achieve a more sustainable outcome. Managers have built upon this analysis by proposing very large areas in the Southern Sierra Nevada where managed fire will be a priority strategy.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Forest Service Region 5