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A JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Bringing People Together & Sharing Knowledge in the Northern Rockies

Effectiveness of Restoration Treatments for Reducing Fuels and Increasing Understory Diversity in Shrubby Mixed-Conifer Forests

This webinar will share research on forest structure and understory vegetation responses to three restoration treatments (thin/burn, burn, and control) over 10 years on a mixed-conifer site in southwestern Colorado. Forest density, canopy cover, and crown fuel loads were consistently lower, and crown base height was higher, in thin/burn than burn or controls, but the effects diminished over time. There was more than a 250% increase post-treatment in shrub density and an increase in the average shrub height. Taken together, these conditions create challenges for managers aiming to reestablish natural fire patterns and sustain mixed-conifer forests. The second part of the webinar will be a dialog with managers about how common these results are across the region and how to respond to the challenge presented by the increase potential for crown fire.