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Project ID: 11-1-1-4

Year: 2011

Date Started: 07/01/2011

Date Completed: 06/30/2015

Title: Ten Years After the Biscuit Fire: Evaluating Vegetation Succession and Post-Fire Management Effects

Project Proposal Abstract: Recent large, high-severity (stand-replacing) wildfires across North America have created a critical need for data to inform post-fire land management. Especially needed are studies that track post-fire vegetation succession through time, providing long-term data without the interpretive limitations of retrospective or chronosequence studies. We propose to address this knowledge gap by re-measuring an established network of vegetation plots on the 2002 Biscuit Fire in southwest Oregon. The Biscuit Fire, for which the 10-year benchmark is rapidly approaching, presents an ideal learning opportunity because it: 1) is a 200,000-hectare mega-fire attracting broad public and scientific attention; 2) embodies many of the most pressing post-fire management issuesuncertain vegetation regeneration, fuels, and post-fire (salvage) logging; 3) has yielded several ecological surprises so far, ranking near the 1988 Yellowstone Fires in expanding our knowledge; and 4) offers an unparalleled factorial combination of wildfire, post-fire management, and re-burn across multiple forest types. Our earlier studies, which compose the majority of peer-reviewed Biscuit research to date, were conducted 2-4 years post-fire at over 200 field plots distributed across multiple forest types (wetter coastal, drier interior), fire combinations (one or two consecutive high-severity fires), and post-fire logging activities (unmanaged or logged and planted). Using our published methodologies, we propose to re-sample these plots 10-11 years post-fire to address three objectives: 1) Quantify rates and patterns of post-fire vegetation and fuel succession in unmanaged stands. Our previous studies identified how conditions such as forest type, elevation, soil type, and distance to unburned edge influenced early post-fire regeneration, including conifer re-establishment which is typically a high management priority. We propose to re-measure our sample of unmanaged stands undergoing natural succession 10 years post-fire to determine whether these documented effects were ephemeral, or instead represent the beginning of unique successional trajectories affecting forest processes for decades or more. Also as part of earlier studies, we quantified woody fuel mass and structure, and we propose to re-measure these plots to assess dynamics of snag decay and surface fuel accumulation 10 years post-fire. 2) Quantify the persistence of post-fire logging effects on vegetation characteristics and fuel profiles. Our previous studies yielded several inferences on early effects of post-fire logging on vegetation and fuelssome expected and some unexpected. A major question is whether or how long these effects may persist. We will re-measure our sample of post-fire logged stands and compare to unmanaged stands to assess whether differences identified early on are borne out in longer-term trajectories. We will also evaluate how snag decay and fuel accumulation over the decadal timeframe are affected by snag removal. 3) Quantify the influence of re-burn on vegetation succession and fuel profiles. Part of the Biscuit Fire burned over the partially-salvaged 1987 Silver Fire. Earlier studies indicated unique vegetation communities establishing in the re-burn area, as well as significant differences in fire effects in stands that were previously salvaged. Woody fuel loads were also much lower in the re-burn than after a single fire. However, the longevity of these differences and consequences for stand development are unknown. Re-measuring our established Silver-Biscuit plots will elucidate how re-burns influence longer-term succession and fuel profiles, and whether post-fire management alters that influence. Overall, re-measuring these Biscuit plots will provide key insight into this nationally significant wildfire that will not otherwise be possible with only short-term or retrospective data.

Principal Investigator: Daniel C. Donato

Agency/Organization: Oregon State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Patricia A. Hawk

Oregon State University

Office of Sponsored Programs

Budget Contact

Patricia A. Hawk

Oregon State University

Office of Sponsored Programs

Co-Principal Investigator

John L. Campbell

Oregon State University

Department of Forest Ecosystems & Society

Co-Principal Investigator

Joseph B. Fontaine

Murdoch University

School of Environmental Science

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Siskiyou 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   3597 Journal Article Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences
view or print   3134 Journal Article Journal of Vegetation Science
view or print   3574 Journal Article Forest Ecology and Management
    7642 Invited Paper/Presentation Ten years after the Biscuit Fire’s 15 minutes: Fuel dynamics, regeneration, and postfire logging
    7646 Invited Paper/Presentation Managing after large, severe disturbances in western North America
    7647 Invited Paper/Presentation Moving beyond structure to function in post-disturbance forest communities
    7648 Invited Paper/Presentation Managin post-disturbance ecosystem structure for resilience to future disturbances
    7649 Invited Paper/Presentation Understanding structural complexity in post-disturbance forest communities: What’s next?
  go to website 6928 Invited Paper/Presentation Naturally Regenerating Early-Seral Forests of the Pacific Northwest
  go to website 7013 Invited Paper/Presentation Occurrence of Wildfire Reburns in Forests of the Pacific Northwest

Supporting Documents

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