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Postfire management on forested public lands of the western United States

Author(s): Robert L. Beschta, Jonathan J. Rhodes, J. Boone Kauffman, Robert E. Gresswell, G. Wayne Minshall, James R. Karr, David A. Perry, F. Richard Hauer, Christopher A. Frissell
Year Published: 2004
Description:

Forest ecosystems in the western United States evolved over many millennia in response to disturbances such as wildfires. Land use and management practices have altered these ecosystems, however, including fire regimes in some areas. Forest ecosystems are especially vulnerable to postfire management practices because such practices may influence forest dynamics and aquatic systems for decades to centuries. Thus, there is an increasing need to evaluate the effect of postfire treatments from the perspective of ecosystem recovery. We examined, via the published literature and our collective experience, the ecological effects of some common postfire treatments. Based on this examination, promising postfire restoration measures include retention of large trees, rehabilitation of firelines and roads, and, in some cases, planting of native species. The following practices are generally inconsistent with efforts to restore ecosystem functions after fire: seeding exotic species, livestock grazing, placement of physical structures in and near stream channels, ground-based postfire logging, removal of large trees, and road construction. Practices that adversely affect soil integrity, persistence or recovery of native species, riparian functions, or water quality generally impede ecological recovery after fire. Although research provides a basis for evaluating the efficacy of postfire treatments, there is a continuing need to increase our understanding of the effects of such treatments within the context of societal and ecological goals for forested public lands of the western United States.

Citation: Beschta, Robert L.; Rhodes, Jonathan J.; Kauffman, J.B.; Gresswell, Robert E.; Minshall, G.W.; Karr, James R.; Perry, David A.; Hauer, F.R.; Frissell, Christopher A. 2004. Postfire management on forested public lands of the western United States. Conservation Biology. 18(4): 957-967.
Topic(s): Post-fire Management, Salvage Logging, Post-fire Rehabilitation, Erosion Control, Seeding, Recovery after fire
Ecosystem(s): Alpine/subalpine shrubland/meadow, Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest, Montane wet mixed-conifer forest, Montane dry mixed-conifer forest
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 7913
FRAMES RCS number: 3694
Record updated: May 14, 2018