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Project ID: 10-1-01-23

Year: 2010

Date Started: 10/01/2010

Date Completed: 10/01/2014

Title: Effectiveness and Effects of Mastication Fuel Treatments in Non-Forested Vegetation of Southern California

Project Proposal Abstract: This proposal investigates the effectiveness and effects of mastication and related crushing and chipping fuel treatments in all four southern California national forests. In the last 6 years these treatments have been applied extensively in the region, primarily on non-forested landscapes dominated by chaparral shrublands. Managers in the region are concerned about the effectiveness of these treatments in terms of how fuel loads and fuel structure is altered and how these changes affect fire behavior and ultimately the extent to which fire intensity can be altered, particularly along the wildland-urban interface. These treatments are sometimes followed by prescription burning and the benefits of this additional treatment are unclear to managers, as well as the potential impact of burning compacted surface fuels on soils and soil-stored seed banks. Maintenance schedules for these treatments are unknown because of a lack of information on vegetation recovery after treatment. Additionally, managers are being challenged by outside organizations because of a lack of information on environmental impacts of different forms of mastication, and combinations of mastication and burning, have on vegetation response, changes in soil structure and invasion by non-native weeds. Lastly, this region has experienced numerous major fires in the last 3 years that have burned over treated areas and it is important to know how treated areas were affected, both in terms of vegetation and soil response. This study will combine a retrospective study of past fuel treatments with monitoring of treatments planned over the next two years. Since 2003 there have been over 400 fuel treatments applied on the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino and Cleveland national forests and many new projects are planned. Approximately 40% of these have involved mastication or similar shredding of fuels and some have been combined with subsequent burning of dried fuels. Our study will contrast mastication with related shredding treatments and mastication vs mastication plus mowing and mastication plus burning. We will quantify fuel bed characteristics on these sites, including masticated as well as standing herbaceous fuels that often invade masticated sites in chaparral. We will use these data to construct custom fuel models that will be verified both from data collected during prior prescription burns, from future planned burns and from experimental laboratory studies. In order to quantify changes in fire behavior we will use Behave Plus to model flame lengths expected from masticated fuels and compare with untreated fuels (based on standard fuel models) across a range of weather and slope conditions. Because of the high winds and rugged terrain, fire brands are a particular concern in this region and we will experimentally investigate the extent to which firebrands of different size and shape will ignite these highly compacted masticated fuels. In addition to quantifying fuels we will also determine vegetation response to treatments by sampling community composition of different treatments and treatment combinations. For treatments burned in recent wildfires we will contrast the vegetation recovery and soil changes of treated sites with adjacent untreated sites.

Principal Investigator: Jon E. Keeley

Agency/Organization: USGS-Geological Survey

Branch or Dept: WERC-Sequoia & Kings Canyon Field Station


Other Project Collaborators

Type

Name

Agency/Organization

Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Wendy L. Boes

Forest Service

AMSET-Adaptive Management Services Enterprise Team

Co-Principal Investigator

Thomas W. McGinnis

USGS-Geological Survey

WERC-Sequoia & Kings Canyon Field Station

Co-Principal Investigator

David R. Weise

Forest Service

PSW-Forest Fire Lab-Riverside

Federal Cooperator

Jon E. Keeley

USGS-Geological Survey

WERC-Sequoia & Kings Canyon Field Station

Federal Fiscal Representative

Karen J. Phillips

USGS-Geological Survey

BRD-Biological Resources Division


Project Locations

Consortium

California


Level

State

Agency

Unit

STATE

CA

FS

Angeles National Forest

STATE

CA

FS

Cleveland National Forest

STATE

CA

FS

San Bernardino National Forest

STATE

CA

FS

Los Padres 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.")

There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

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