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Project ID: 14-1-01-7

Year: 2014

Date Started: 09/01/2014

Ending Date:  09/30/2018

Title: Do post-fire fuel treatments and annual grasses interact to affect fire regimes in the Great Basin?

Project Proposal Abstract: Shifting climates and annual grass invasions have contributed to the increased number and size of fires in the western United States costing millions of dollars in fire suppression and post-fire rehabilitation. Post-fire rehabilitation implements fuel treatments, such as seeding and prescription grazing, to control annual grass invasion and thus reduce fuels and subsequent fire. However, an examination of the effectiveness of these fuel treatments at a landscape scale is virtually absent for Great Basin rangelands. We propose to 1) investigate the impact of post-fire fuel treatments (seeding) on fuels composition, fire return intervals, and burn severity, and 2) examine if livestock grazing enhances or reduces fuels treatments effectiveness at increasing the duration between fires, lowering fire severity, and protecting adjacent, intact habitat in the Great Basin. We will examine post-fire fuel treatment effectiveness using fieldwork, GIS analysis, and remote sensing data. Research questions include: 1. How does the size and configuration of fuels treatments across landscapes influence patterns of severity in subsequent fires? 2. How do fire regimes vary with fuel treatment characteristics, climate, and environmental condition? 3. Do fuel treatments maintain their effectiveness over time? Does grazing influence the long-term effectiveness of treatments? We will address question #1 by examining how seeding rates, treatment application methods (drill versus aerial seeding), treatment size and treatment configuration affect burn severity across landscapes using fuel treatment and fire GIS polygon data, as well as fieldwork. In addition, we will analyze spatial relationships among treated, untreated, and intact habitat to determine probabilities of fire risk to unburned habitats. We will measure burn severity by comparing several remote sensing indices to on the ground measurements of plant mortality. To examine the influence of fuel treatment characteristics, climate, and the environment on fire severity (question #2), we will look at the relationships between fuels, slope, aspect, soil, precipitation, and burn severity using digital elevation models, ecological site descriptions, and PRISM data. We will use fieldwork and ESR monitoring data to collect fuel composition data to use as training data for a supervised classification using multitemporal remote sensing analysis of pre-fire vegetation. For question #3, a repeated measures analysis will allow us to examine how fuel treatments affect burn severity, annual grass cover, and fire return intervals after multiple fires. Using existing and newly installed livestock grazing exclosures, we will also examine the immediate and long-term influence of grazing on fuel composition and load. Study sites span over 209,000 ha on BLM land in southern Idaho. We have identified potential sites using spatial data across a gradient of 170-700 mm annual precipitation. Our results will inform managers of 1) the effectiveness of post-fire fuel treatments at altering fire regimes across climate and environmental gradients, and 2) the long-term effects of fuel treatments and how subsequent grazing affects fuel treatments. Results will provide insight into the most effective use of limited fiscal and labor resources and contribute to maintaining sustainable rangelands that are resilient to fires and resistant to annual grass invasion.

Principal Investigator: Beth A. Newingham

Agency/Organization: ARS-Agricultural Research Service

Branch or Dept: Great Basin Rangelands Research Unit

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Charles M. Myers

ARS-Agricultural Research Service

Extramural Agreements Division

Budget Contact

Connie Writer

ARS-Agricultural Research Service

Co-Principal Investigator

Eva K. Strand

University of Idaho

College of Natural Resources


Steven J. Jirik

BLM-Bureau of Land Management

Boise District Office

Funding Cooperator

Mark Weltz

ARS-Agricultural Research Service

Hydrology & Remote Sensing

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Great Basin






Interior West


Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

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