Fuels are the only component of the fire triangle that forest and fire managers can alter to change fire behavior. There have been numerous studies examining how fuel reduction treatments and salvage logging alter fire behavior, severity, and its’ ecological impacts. However, less attention has been paid to how different forest management objectives may influence fire severity in multiowner landscapes, despite costly and politically contentious suppression of wildfires that do not acknowledge ownership boundaries. In 2013, the Douglas Complex burned over 20,000 ha of Oregon & California Railroad (O&C) lands in Southwestern Oregon, USA. The O&C lands are a geographic checkerboard of private industrial and federal forest land with fundamentally different management objectives, subsequent forest conditions, and perceived fire risks, providing a unique opportunity to quantify the effects of forest management practices on wildfire severity. We bring together geospatial data, on fire progression, fire weather, topography, pre-fire forest conditions derived from LiDAR, and past management activities to represent the different factors that influence fire behavior. Using ensemble machine learning and spatial autoregressive modelling techniques, we disentangled the relative importance of these factors on fire severity (relative differenced normalized burn ratio, RdNBR) as calculated from Landsat imagery. While daily fire weather strongly influenced fire extent (area burned), ownership was the most important driver of fire severity, with younger and structurally homogeneous stands on private industrial forests displaying higher fire severity compared to older and more structural complex forests on federal lands.

Media Record Details

Jan 12, 2017
Christopher J. Dunn, David E. Calkin, Harold S. Zald, Matthew P. Thompson
Fire Communication & Education, Crisis Communication, Management Approaches, Post-fire Management