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Project ID: 06-3-4-16

Year: 2006

Date Started: 07/07/2006

Date Completed: 06/01/2010

Title: Fuel Succession, Post-Fire Logging, and Future Fire Behavior: Addressing the Reburn Problem

Project Proposal Abstract: After stand-replacing wildfires, there is often considerable conflict over post-fire logging (or salvage harvests), with proponents arguing for economic recovery of fire-killed trees, while opponents argue against subjecting fire-stressed ecosystems to further disturbance. Often overlooked in the debate over salvage logging is the risk of ecological damage to soils, vegetation, and aquatic ecosystems from subsequent high severity fires 'reburns' that may result if fire-killed trees are left to decay onsite. Salvage harvests have been proposed as fuel reduction treatments to reduce future fire hazard by removing large woody debris; however, there has been virtually no research documenting the efficacy of salvage logging for reducing future wildfire intensity and associated effects on vegetation, soils, and wildlife habitat. In response to Joint Fire Sciences Program AFP-2006-3, Task 4, we propose research studying the effects of post-fire fuel succession and salvage harvests on future fire behavior under weather conditions typical of summer wildfires and spring/fall prescribed fires in dry coniferous forests of the interior Pacific Northwest. The objectives of the research are to 1) understand temporal changes in forest fuels and potential fire behavior following severe wildfires; 2) understand salvage logging effects on patterns and rates of fuel succession and potential behavior of future wildfires and prescribed fires; and 3) understand the effects of tree species, diameter, site environment, and time since fire on snag decay, snag fall, and log decay following wildfire in ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests of the interior Pacific Northwest. The scope of the study is dry coniferous forests of the ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir series in the Pacific Northwest. Our purpose is to characterize changes in surface fuels, forest structure, and snag densities during the first 35 years following wildfire in Washington and Oregon, with and without post-fire logging. We will use a retrospective study design using Current Vegetation Survey (CVS) and Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data for areas burned by wildfires during 1970-2005, with some additional field surveys taken to improve sample balance across time and treatments. Field surveys will also provide data for characterizing temporal patterns of snag decay. From these data, we will generate statistical models of post-fire fuel succession, including snag decomposition/retention, surface fuel dynamics, and vegetation (live fuel) succession. Using representative fuel profiles developed from the fuel succession models, we will then model potential fire behavior over time since wildfire, contrasting 1) fuel conditions with and without post-fire logging and 2) weather conditions typical of summer wildfires and spring/fall prescribed fires. Model outputs will be used to assess the validity of the reburn hypothesis and the potential for post-fire logging to mitigate severity of future wildfires. This research is expected to produce peer-reviewed research papers describing 1) snag decomposition/retention rates for several major species as functions of tree diameter, 2) patterns and rates of fuel succession following severe wildfires in ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests, 3) salvage logging effects on fuel succession, and 4) salvage logging effects on potential fire behavior and effects under wildfire and prescribed fire conditions. Study objectives, progress, and results will be communicated to relevant management groups through personal meetings, presentations at management workshops and conferences, and web pages.

Principal Investigator: David W. Peterson

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: PNW-Forestry Sciences Lab-Wenatchee


Other Project Collaborators

Type

Name

Agency/Organization

Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Richy J. Harrod

Forest Service

Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests

Federal Cooperator

David W. Peterson

Forest Service

PNW-Forestry Sciences Lab-Wenatchee


Project Locations

Consortium

Northern Rockies

Northwest


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
    1165 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Snag Retention, Wildlife Usage, and Surface Fuel Deposition Following Large, Stand-Replacing Wildfires in Dry Coniferous Forests-Savannah, GA
  go to website 6647 Website Birds and Burns Network
    6146 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Contributions of Fire-Killed Trees to Future Wildlife Habitat and Surface Fuels in Dry Coniferous Forests-Logan, UT
    6147 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Snag Retention, Wildlife Usage, and Surface Fuel Deposition Following Large, Stand-Replacing Wildfires in Dry Coniferous Forests-Albuquerque, NM
    6148 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Snag Retention, Wildlife Usage, and Surface Fuel Deposition Following Large, Stand-Replacing Wildfires in Dry Coniferous Forests-Albuquerque, NM
    6784 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Snag Retention, Wildlife Usage, and Surface Fuel Deposition Following Large, Stand-Replacing Wildfires in Dry Coniferous Forests-Seattle, WA
    5882 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Tree Size and Species Influence Snag Retention Rates Following Severe Wildfires in Dry Coniferous Forests-Logan, UT

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are available for this project.

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Brief


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