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Project ID: 07-1-2-13

Year: 2007

Date Started: 06/01/2007

Date Completed: 03/22/2010

Title: Do Fuel Treatments Reduce Fire Severity? Evaluating Treatment Effectiveness in the 2006 Tripod Complex Fires

Project Proposal Abstract: The 2006 Tripod Complex fires offer a rare opportunity to evaluate how a large number of well-documented fuel treatments affected fire severity (e.g., tree mortality) and facilitated operational aspects of fire suppression. The wildfires initiated as two lightning strikes and spread over 175,000 acres of mixed conifer forest in the Okanogan National Forest. Of the many fuel treatments the Methow Valley Ranger District conducted over the past 10 years, several were used for burnout operations near the town of Winthrop, Washington. An additional 19 thinned units and 10 thinned and prescribed-burn units were involved in the wildfire. Woody fuel loading, duff depths, and forest stand characteristics are available for the fuel treatment units. In this study, we will: (1) quantify how effective fuel treatments were in reducing fire severity, (2) assess the value of past treatments and past fires as points of defensibility for fire suppression, and (3) compare actual measures of fire severity with predictions made in the Fire and Fuels Extension of the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FFE-FVS). Retrospective fire behavior will be modeled using real-time fire weather data and daily fire progression maps to provide a context for observed and modeled fire effects. This study will provide critical information on the effectiveness of fuel treatments in modifying fire behavior and fire severity, and will inform the design of effective fuel treatment strategies and prescriptions as a component of adaptive management in dry interior forests.

Principal Investigator: Susan J. Prichard

Agency/Organization: University of Washington

Branch or Dept: School of Forest Resources

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Federal Cooperator

David L. Peterson

Forest Service

PNW-Seattle-Managing Natural Disturbances

Federal Fiscal Representative

Tamatha S. Verhunc

Forest Service

PNW-Pacific Northwest Research Station

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
view or print   320 Photo Photo of a thin and prescribed burn unit that was subsequently burned in the Tripod Complex fires.
view or print   323 Photo Photo of a recently thinned unit that was subsequently burned in the Tripod Complex fires.
view or print   324 Photo Photo of an unmanaged control burned in the Tripod Complex fires.
view or print   327 Photo Photo of field sampling for this project.
view or print   328 Photo Photo of a post-fire landscape in the Tripod Complex fires.
    1033 Progress Report  
    1035 Invited Paper/Presentation Presented Research Findings to the Methow Valley Ranger District
    1036 Progress Report  

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are available for this project.

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