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Project ID: 03-2-3-20

Year: 2003

Date Started: 07/29/2003

Date Completed: 04/07/2006

Title: Effects of Altering Stand Structure on Wildfire Severity and Effects in the Black Mountain Experimental Forest, Cascade Range, California

Project Proposal Abstract: The severity and extent of wildfires throughout the western United States have brought an awareness of a widespread fire hazard problem to the public in recent years. Both the Legislative and Executive branches of the Federal Government have responded by directing land management agencies to greatly expand fuel treatment programs. While little information exists on the effectiveness of fuel treatments for reducing the severity of wildfires, even less information exists from wildfires that have burned into existing research projects designed to study effects of manipulating stand structure and other fuel treatments. Finally, data evaluating the effects of fuel treatments on fire-associated wildlife species and their habitat use patterns are lacking. There exists great controversy over the efficacy of salvaging dead trees following wildfires. Much of this controversy centers on the value of dead trees to wildlife and potential for soil compaction. However, salvage is often undertaken to reduce the potential future fire hazard that would develop as dead trees decompose and are added to the surface fuel layer. Little quantitative information is available to describe the development of fuel profiles following wildfire and varying levels of salvaging of killed trees. Likewise, little information is available to relate different levels of salvaging to wildlife use or patterns of soil compaction. We propose to investigate 1) patterns of severity in a recent wildfire that burned into existing treatment areas of the Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest, 2) immediate post-salvage stand and fuel conditions for severely burned areas of the Cone Fire, 3) immediate patterns of beetle and woodpecker use in areas of varying fire severity and in salvaged areas, 4) patterns of soil compaction associated with varying levels of salvage harvesting. Treatments implemented before the fire included mechanical thinning with and without slash removal through prescribed fire. All treatments were accomplished less than 6 years prior to wildfire occurrence. The historic fire regime of this ecosystem was of the frequent/low-moderate severity type of interior ponderosa pine in the southern Cascade Range of northern California. Initial observations indicate that treated stands experienced lower fire severity than untreated stands. Additionally, stands thinned without follow-up prescribed fire appear to have experienced higher fire severity than those where thinning was followed by prescribed fire. However, in the case of both treatments the fire dropped quickly out of the crowns to become a surface fire upon entering the treated areas. The rapidity of apparent change from a high-intensity crown fire to a much lower-intensity surface fire may have significant implications for management of wildland/urban interface zones as well as wildiands in general.

Principal Investigator: Carl N. Skinner

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: PSW-Silviculture Lab-Redding

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Kerry L. Farris

Wildlife Conservation Society

North America Program

Co-Principal Investigator

Gary Nakamura

University of California-Davis

Cooperative Extension-Shasta County

Co-Principal Investigator

William W. Oliver

Forest Service

PSW-Silviculture Lab-Redding

Co-Principal Investigator

Martin W. Ritchie

Forest Service

PSW-Silviculture Lab-Redding

Co-Principal Investigator

Steve W. Zack

Wildlife Conservation Society

North America Program

Federal Cooperator

Carl N. Skinner

Forest Service

PSW-Silviculture Lab-Redding

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network


There are no project locations identified for this project.

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
    1699 Government Publication Effects of Prescribed FIre and Thinning on Wildfire Severity: The Cone Fire, Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest
    3441 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Influence of Contrasting Stand Structures on Fire Behavior and Effects--The Cone Fire of September 2002
    3442 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Effects of Prescribed Fire and Thinning on Wildfire Severity
    3443 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Influence of Stand Structure on Wildfire Severity--The Case of Cone Fire, September 2002
    3444 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Forest Fires and Forest Fuels
    3445 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Forest Fires and Forest Fuels
    3446 Invited Paper/Presentation Forest Fires and Forest Fuels
    3447 Invited Paper/Presentation Effective Fuel Reduction Planning
    3448 Field Demonstration/Tour Annual Field Tour of the Cone Fire Research Project
  go to website 3449 Website  

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are available for this project.

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