Fire Intensity / Burn Severity
Fire & Wilderness
Distinguishing favorable versus undesirable outcomes of wildland fires in coniferous forest ecosystems is challenging and requires a clear and objective approach. I applied the natural range of variation (NRV) concept and used fire severity indicators to evaluate the possible effects of wildfires managed for resource benefits (hereafter 'resource objective wildfires') in four national forests of the southern Sierra Nevada, California. Results indicated that resource objective wildfires in coniferous forests were overwhelmingly within the NRV with respect to fire severity proportions and mean and maximum high-severity patch size. These results suggest that the continued and expanded use of resource objective wildfires, including the establishment of 'demonstration firesheds' within and across administrative boundaries, has the potential to vastly increase the scale of regional forest restoration efforts in the western United States.