Fuel Treatments & Effects
Recovery after fire
Mick Harrington and Steve Arno, retired research foresters with the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, took participants of the May 2014 Large Wildland Fires Conference through a 300-year-old stand of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and western larch (Larix occidentalis). While there, they discussed their research, which compared various combinations of thinning and burning through a dense Douglas-fir (Pseudostuga menziesii) understory to restore old-growth forest structure. Their research included a detailed assessment of fuels and the potential to reduce fire severity. Most of the old growth trees at the study site near the Snow Bowl ski area north of Missoula, Montana, were established sometime between 1660 and 1700. Historically, these forests experienced frequent surface fires with a mean fire-return interval averaging 27 years (range 15-42 years). Since 1919, however, there have been no fires in this unharvested site.