Fuel Treatment Effects and Effectiveness
The initial fuel treatment effects and effectiveness science plan is complete. A second phase plan is underway to flesh out science needs in fire effects, fuel treatment effectiveness and fire behavior. Three areas will be featured.
|Science Focus||Key Questions|
Improved predictive models – direct or first order and indirect or second order
Relationship with threatened and endangered species
|Fuel treatment effectiveness||
Longevity of treatments
Cost efficiency – Strategic placement of treatments
Metrics, guidelines, or standards
Improved predictive models
Spatial and physics based systems
Since the creation of the program in 1998, investments have been made in over 177 research projects related to this line of work. The Government Accounting office recognized our past and continuing work in fuel treatment effects and effectiveness in GAO Report GAO-09-877 Wildland Fire Management (p. 11):
"The agencies, for example, still lack a measure of the effectiveness of fuel reduction treatments and therefore lack information needed to ensure that fuel reduction funds are directed to the areas where they can best minimize risk to communities and natural and cultural resources. Forest Service and Interior officials told us that they recognize this shortcoming and that efforts are under way to address it. The Joint Fire Science Program, for example, has funded almost 50 studies examining the effectiveness of fuel reduction treatments in different locations and has begun a comprehensive effort to evaluate the effectiveness of different types of fuel treatments, as well as the longevity of those treatments and their effects on ecosystems and natural resources. Efforts like these are likely to be long term, involving considerable research investment, and have the potential to improve the agencies' ability to assess and compare the cost-effectiveness of potential treatments in deciding how to optimally allocate scarce funds."
The report goes on to say:
"Other Joint Fire Science Program efforts may also help the agencies improve their fuel reduction efforts, including efforts to synthesize and disseminate the current scientific knowledge related to reducing fuels in different forests and grassland types and to develop a system that would allow field managers to better use a variety of sources of fuels data."
Our Fuel Treatment Effects and Effectiveness line of work is positioned to compliment future science needs identified in the Cohesive Strategy being developed by the Departments of Agriculture and Interior. We believe our work has and will continue to yield information for a coordinated response to fuel management issues across all ownerships nationwide.