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Changes in downed wood and forest structure after prescribed fire in ponderosa pine forests

Author(s): Victoria A. Saab, Lisa Bate, John F. Lehmkuhl, Brett G. Dickson, Scott Story, Stephanie Jentsch, William M. Block
Year Published: 2006
Description:

Most prescribed fire plans focus on reducing wildfire hazards with little consideration given to effects on wildlife populations and their habitats. To evaluate effectiveness of prescribed burning in reducing fuels and to assess effects of fuels reduction on wildlife, we began a large-scale study known as the Birds and Burns Network in 2002. In this paper we analyze changes in downed wood and forest structure (trees and snags) measured within one year after prescribed fire treatments that were completed in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests in Arizona and New Mexico (Southwest region), and Idaho and Washington (Northwest region). Apparent reductions in downed wood and trees were observed in both regions. However, statistically significant reductions of downed wood were found primarily in the Northwest (p < 0.001), whereas significant reductions of trees were reported only for the Southwest (p = 0.03). No significant post-treatment changes were detected in snag densities, although we observed a pattern of non-significant increases in all size classes. Additional fire treatments are likely needed to meet fuels reduction goals. Results of this study are intended to assist managers with developing scientifically sound and legally defensible prescribed fire projects that will reduce fuels and concurrently enhance wildlife habitat.

Citation: Saab, Victoria A.; Bate, Lisa; Lehmkuhl, John F.; Dickson, Brett G.; Story, Scott; Jentsch, Stephanie; Block, William M. 2006. Changes in downed wood and forest structure after prescribed fire in ponderosa pine forests. In: Andrews, Patricia L.; Butler, Bret W., comps. Fuels management - How to measure success, conference proceedings; 2006 March 28-30; Portland, OR. Proceedings RMRS-P-41. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 477-487.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation, Wildlife, Fire & Wildlife, Birds, Cavity-nesters, Habitat Assessment, Fuels, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Prescribed Fire-use treatments
Ecosystem(s): Ponderosa pine woodland/savanna
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
NRFSN number: 11002
FRAMES RCS number: 2985
Record updated: Jul 2, 2018