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Fuel reduction management practices in riparian areas of the Western USA

Author(s): Katharine R. Stone, David S. Pilliod, Kathleen A. Dwire, Charles C. Rhoades, Sherry P. Wollrab, Michael K. Young
Year Published: 2010

Two decades of uncharacteristically severe wildfires have caused government and private land managers to actively reduce hazardous fuels to lessen wildfire severity in western forests, including riparian areas. Because riparian fuel treatments are a fairly new management strategy, we set out to document their frequency and extent on federal lands in the western U.S. Seventy-four USDA Forest Service Fire Management Officers (FMOs) in 11 states were interviewed to collect information on the number and characteristics of riparian fuel reduction treatments in their management district. Just under half of the FMOs surveyed (43%) indicated that they were conducting fuel reduction treatments in riparian areas. The primary management objective listed for these projects was either fuel reduction (81%) or ecological restoration and habitat improvement (41%), though multiple management goals were common (56%). Most projects were of small extent (93% < 300 acres), occurred in the wildland-urban interface (75%), and were conducted in ways to minimize negative impacts on species and habitats. The results of this survey suggest that managers are proceeding cautiously with treatments. To facilitate project planning and implementation, managers recommended early coordination with resource specialists, such as hydrologists and fish and wildlife biologists. Well-designed monitoring of the consequences of riparian fuel treatments on fuel loads, fire risk, and ecological effects is needed to provide a scientifically-defensible basis for the continued and growing implementation of these treatments.

Citation: Stone, Katharine R.; Pilliod, David S.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Wollrab, Sherry P.; Young, Michael K. 2010. Fuel reduction management practices in riparian areas of the Western USA. Environmental management. 46: 91-100.
Topic(s): Fuel Treatments & Effects, Fuels
Ecosystem(s): Riparian woodland/shrubland
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article, Synthesis
NRFSN number: 12577
FRAMES RCS number: 17120
Record updated: May 24, 2018