Ecological - Second Order
Fire & Wildlife
Much of the nearly 7 million acres (2.86 million ha) of aspen in the western United States is seral to conifers. Also, most aspen stands are old, in excess of 60 years. Proper treatment of these aspen forests will retain the aspen and can produce optimum wildlife habitat. Optimally, all age and size classes of aspen should be present on the landscape. Fire is often the most economical and, ecologically, the most natural treatment applicable in the many acres of unmerchantable but burnable aspen community types in the West. Fire of sufficient severity will kill the old stand, cause profuse aspen root suckering, and increase forage production. Currently, baseline data are being gathered for developing fire prescriptions and describing the fuels in Wyoming and Idaho aspen types. The effects of fire on the aspen plant community, especially on its value as wildlife habitat, is also being assessed.