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Project ID: 09-1-06-16

Year: 2009

Date Started: 07/31/2009

Date Completed: 02/04/2013

Title: Management Options for Reducing Short and Long-Term Fire Risk in Pine Beetle-Infested Forests

Project Proposal Abstract: Overstory mortality caused by current mountain pine beetle attack on Western forests surpasses the extent and severity of forest disturbance experienced by the public or the land management community in recent memory. Perceived increase in wildfire risk has prompted a rapid management response aimed at reducing hazardous fuels on federal, state and private forest land across northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. In spite of the scope of the outbreak, managers will treat only a fraction of the landscape altered by bark beetles during a narrow window of opportunity to capture the economic value of beetle-killed timber. The implications of current management will however, alter fuel profiles, fire behavior and other services delivered from these forest ecosystems for the coming century. Removal of beetle-killed overstory trees will immediately lower crown fire risk, but the long-term effects of management on fire risks are less certain. Rapid recovery of understory and ladder fuels is stimulated by certain management operations and can multiply wildfire risk during the decades after treatment. Such unintended treatment outcomes will require future fuel reduction treatments that may offset the immediate benefits of overstory removal. Harvesting alternatives that treat canopy fuels, but retain logging residue on-site may slow understory regeneration and thus extend the lifespan of fuel reduction operations. In untreated beetle-killed forests, wildfire risk is elevated during the first years following tree mortality, but it is unknown how potential fire behavior will change as windthrown timber accumulates as large surface fuels. This proposed project will be conducted on an existing operational-scale comparison of management alternatives for treating forests severely impacted by bark beetles. We will characterize the effectiveness of practices that are being widely implemented to treat hazardous fuels in forests impacted by severe bark beetle outbreak. This work will also estimate the longevity of these fuel reduction treatments. Our proposed evaluation of fuel loads, fire behavior and wildfire effects addresses a critical knowledge gap in our existing study of sustained forest production, watershed conservation and the delivery of ecosystem services from bark beetle-infested forests.

Principal Investigator: Chuck C. Rhoades

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Fort Collins

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Michael A. Battaglia

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Fort Collins

Federal Cooperator

Chuck C. Rhoades

Forest Service

RMRS-Forestry Sciences Lab-Fort Collins

Federal Fiscal Representative

Susan T. Major

Forest Service

RMRS-Rocky Mountain Research Station

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Southern Rockies








Arapaho National Forest




Roosevelt National Forest

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
view or print   1734 Government Publication From Death Comes Life: Recovery and Revolution in the Wake of Epidemic Outbreaks of Mountain Pine Beetle
view or print   1761 Government Publication Effects of Salvage Logging on Fire Risks After Bark Beetle Outbreaks in Colorado Lodgepole Pine Forests
view or print go to website 3383 Journal Article Forest Ecology and Management
view or print   522 Field Demonstration/Tour Management Options for Reducing Short and Long-Term Fire Risk in Mountain Pine Beetle-Infested Forests
view or print   3985 Poster Future Stand Development and Potential Fire Behavior Following Mountain Pine Beetle and Harvesting in Colorado Lodgepole Pine Stands
view or print   5489 Invited Paper/Presentation One Size Does Not Fit All: Interactions of Forest Composition and Management on Fuel Complex and Predicted Fire Behavior Following a Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak
view or print   7076 Final Report Summary 2012 Annual Report
view or print   7004 Field Demonstration/Tour Managing Post Beetle Outbreak Forests, Fuels and Fire

Supporting Documents

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