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Simulating the Effectiveness of Improvement Cuts and Commercial Thinning to Enhance Fire Resistance in West Coast Dry Mixed Conifer Forests

Author(s): Theresa B. Jain, Jeremy S. Fried, Sara Loreno
Year Published: 2020
Description:

Nine multipurpose silvicultural treatments, formulated as a synthesis of recently implemented prescriptions offered by forest managers, were simulated to evaluate their effectiveness at enhancing fire resistance. The Forest Vegetation Simulator was applied, within the BioSum Framework, on over 3,000 Forest Inventory and Analysis plots representing 5 million hectares of dry mixed conifer forests in eastern Washington and Oregon and California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. We developed a composite fire-resistance score based on four fuel modification principals and metrics: fuel strata gap, canopy bulk density, proportion of basal area in resistant species, and predicted tree survival. The trajectories of stands with and without treatment were compared to evaluate effectiveness immediately post-treatment, and over the three decades that followed. Seventy percent of these forests could be effectively treated in the short term by at least one prescription. Pretreatment forest condition, particularly fire-resistant species abundance, strongly influenced short-term treatment success, and the post-treatment stand dynamics that limit treatment longevity. Treatment effectiveness endured only 10 or 20 years, depending on fire-resistant species abundance, owing to growing space for crown expansion generated by treatment plus regeneration and release and growth of understory tree strata.

Citation: Jain TB, Fried JS, and Loreno SM. 2020. Simulating the Effectiveness of Improvement Cuts and Commercial Thinning to Enhance Fire Resistance in West Coast Dry Mixed Conifer Forests. Forest Science 66 (2): 157–177. https://doi.org/10.1093/forsci/fxz071
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Simulation Modeling, FVS, Fuels, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Fuels Inventory & Monitoring, Recovery after fire, Restoration
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 21176
Record updated: May 6, 2020