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Project ID: 10-1-02-10

Year: 2010

Date Started: 06/01/2010

Ending Date:  05/31/2014

Title: Improved Canopy Fuel Estimation Procedures for Conifer Forests in the Interior West

Project Proposal Abstract: Long-term maintenance of fuels reduction treatments is a primary goal for forest management in western conifer forests. Fire resistant structures created by stand and landscape level fuels treatments are not static: canopy density increases with time as trees grow and regeneration is recruited into the overstory canopy. With this increased canopy density, active crown fire behavior again becomes likely. Accurate projections of how canopy density changes with initial treatment and how canopy density increases with time are crucial in determining how, when, and how often fuels treatments are preformed. In previous work (JFS 06-3-3-13), we tested these procedures as currently used to estimate CBD and CBH in fire behavior prediction models such as FFE-FVS and found that they produced significant errors (Keyser and Smith in press). As a result, predictions of likely crown fire behavior are in error, resulting in incorrect evaluations of response to fuel treatments. We propose to develop improved methods for estimating the amount and vertical distribution of canopy fuels from forest inventory data and to integrate these estimators of canopy fuels with models of forest growth and fire behavior (i.e. the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) and the Fire and Fuels Extension (FFE). Our overall objective for this work is to develop improved procedures for estimating coniferous forest canopy fuels to ensure accurate predictions of potential fire behavior in response to fuel reduction treatments. This proposal will extend the results of our previous work on ponderosa pine to include geographic areas covering the interior West for a set of species that includes those most important for fuels reduction treatments. We have consulted with fire and fuels managers and with silviculturists in the interior West to develop a list of species of highest concern for canopy fuel treatments. Our objectives are to: 1) perform a comprehensive evaluation of existing conifer crown biomass equations that could be used in fire behavior modeling systems and develop new locally-derived estimators where existing equations prove inadequate; and 2) develop statistical descriptions of non-uniform, vertical distribution of crown fuel mass to improve fire behavior prediction for coniferous species important in fuel treatments across the interior west. We will conduct felled tree sampling of 180 trees of 6 species (i.e. ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce and pinyon / juniper) important in fuels treatments across the interior west to test our hypotheses regarding the geographic limitations of biomass estimators and the vertical distribution of canopy fuels. Our felled tree sampling design is will provide measures of crown biomass, fuel size class distribution and the vertical distribution of canopy fuel. These measures will be used to develop and test tree algometric relations across geographic areas. They will also provide the basis to model the effect of species, shade tolerance and stand density on the vertical distribution of canopy fuels. We will develop a comprehensive approach for improving canopy fuel estimates from our results. This approach will be implemented in FFE-FVS and available to developers of other fire behavior modeling applications. We expect that our work will result in a substantial improvement in canopy fuel estimation procedures used to evaluate fuel reduction treatments. This will result in more accurate evaluation of the need for fuel treatments, fuel treatment effectiveness and the anticipated longevity of treatment effectiveness. We will distribute our results through training programs for fire and vegetation managers, FFE documentation and scientific publications.

Principal Investigator: Frederick W. Smith

Agency/Organization: Colorado State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Forest, Rangeland & Watershed Stewardship


Other Project Collaborators

Type

Name

Agency/Organization

Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Tara L. Keyser

Forest Service

SRS-Bent Creek Experimental Forest

Co-Principal Investigator

Stephanie A. Rebain

Forest Service

RMRS-Forest Management Service Center

Federal Cooperator

Tara L. Keyser

Forest Service

SRS-Bent Creek Experimental Forest

Federal Fiscal Representative

Shelly M. Gates

Forest Service

SRS-Southern Research Station


Project Locations

Consortium

Other


Level

State

Agency

Unit

REGIONAL

Interior West

FED


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.")

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Supporting Documents

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