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Project ID: 03-3-3-58

Year: 2003

Date Started: 09/03/2003

Date Completed: 09/28/2006

Title: Effects of Fuel Management Treatments in Pinyon Juniper Vegetation at a Site on the Colorado Plateau

Project Proposal Abstract: Pi?on-juniper woodlands have expanded beyond their historical range in the western United States, due partly to land management practices such as fire suppression that began with settlement of the region in the late 1 880s. This woodland expansion has replaced sagebrush steppe vegetation, leading to decreased wildlife habitat, soil seedbanks, and plant species diversity, and increased potential for soil erosion and high intensity crown fire. In an attempt to restore historical conditions, "post-settlement" trees have been removed to free resources for sagebrush steppe vegetation to become re-established. This was initially done by chaining landscapes to uproot all trees, but this method had many undesirable effects including extreme soil disturbance and the creation of even-aged pinon-juniper stands, and is rarely done now on public lands. More recently, mechanical and chemical thinning methods have replaced chaining, often followed by seeding and/or burning. Unfortunately, the cost-effectiveness and ecological effects of various combinations of thinning, seeding, and burning remain mostly unknown, making it difficult for land managers to develop effective management plans. The need for this information is greater now than ever, because of recent plans to apply large-scale fuel treatments across the western United States, a region dominated by sagebrush-steppe and pinon-juniper vegetation. This proposed project is related to both Tasks 2 and 3 of the Joint Fire Science Program AFP 2003-3 in that it will establish an administrative study that will address scientific knowledge gaps hindering the development and implementation of fuels management plans in pinon-juniper woodlands of the Colorado Plateau, and more generally the western United States. This proposal is for the first of a two-phase project. Phase 1 will compare the cost effectiveness of two types of mechanical and one type of chemical thinning treatments, alone and when combined with seeding treatments, and evaluate the abilities of these treatments to: (1) reduce densities of post-settlement pinon and juniper trees; (2) increase cover and seedbank density of annual plants and perennial grasses; (3) increase plant species diversity; (4) minimize cover and seedbank density of invasive alien plants; and (5) create a fuelbed that promotes the re-establishment of historic low to moderate intensity ground fires. The second phase, pending additional funding beyond the scope of this proposal, will add fire as a management treatment and compare fire behavior among previous thinning and seeding treatments. Virtually all previous studies of pinon-juniper fuels treatments have been unreplicated and largely descriptive, comparing adjacent treated and untreated areas. This proposed study would be a replicated, randomized experimental study with quantitative response variables for vegetation seedbanks, and fuels, allowing for the rigorous evaluation of treatment effects needed to develop sound management plans.

Principal Investigator: Kevin C. Ryan

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: RMRS-Fire Sciences Lab-Missoula

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Henry Bastian

NPS-National Park Service

Zion National Park

Co-Principal Investigator

Curt Deuser

NPS-National Park Service

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Co-Principal Investigator

Todd C. Esque

USGS-Geological Survey

WERC-Las Vegas Field Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Kevin Oliver

NPS-National Park Service

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Co-Principal Investigator

Helen Y. Smith

Forest Service

RMRS-Fire Sciences Lab-Missoula

Federal Cooperator

Matthew L. Brooks

USGS-Geological Survey

WERC-Yosemite Field Station

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Southern Rockies


There are no project locations identified for this project.

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
    2776 Journal Article Response of Fuelbed Characteristics to Restoration Treatments in Pinyon-Juniper Encroached Shrublands on the Shivwits Plateau, Arizona
  go to website 697 Website  
    2760 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Comparison of Thinning Techniques for Pinyon-Juniper Encroached Shrublands on the Shivwits Plateau, Arizona
    2757 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Pre-Fire Risk Assessment Including Fuels Mapping and Treatments
    2758 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Fire and Fuels Management in the Intermountain West
    2759 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Effects of Plant Invasions on Fire Regimes
    6844 Field Demonstration/Tour  
    5950 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Evaluating Effects of Fuels Treatments in Arid and Semiarid Ecosystems
    5990 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Comparison of Thinning Techniques for Pinyon-Juniper Encroached Shrublands on the Shivwits Plateau, Arizona

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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