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Project ID: 13-1-04-45

Year: 2013

Date Started: 08/01/2013

Date Completed: 12/31/2016

Title: Integrating Fuels Treatments and Ecological Values in Piñon-Juniper Woodlands: Fuels, Vegetation, and Avifauna

Project Proposal Abstract: Piñon pine and juniper woodlands are important yet poorly understood communities of the western United States. These ecosystems support diverse and unique bird communities: 20% of nesting species are considered piñon-juniper obligates. Unfortunately, many piñon-juniper ecosystems have been considerably degraded by human practices over the last century. Piñon-juniper woodlands also make up a large proportion of the wildland-urban interface and many stands are high priority for fuels treatments to reduce wildland fire hazard. However, piñon-juniper management and restoration is often hindered by both conflicting management aims and inadequate scientific understanding. The purpose of the proposed research is to assess the relationships between piñon-juniper fuels treatments and ecological values, and to develop strategies to integrate fuels treatments with ecological values in piñon-juniper woodlands. Land managers frequently face trade-offs between wildand fire hazard reduction objectives and ecological goals. An understanding of the nature and degree of such trade-offs in piñon-juniper woodlands remains limited by sparse quantitative research. To what extent do piñon-juniper fuels treatments achieve ecological objectives, where are they in conflict, and how might fuels treatments be altered to reduce undesirable ecological impacts? Our study focuses on the piñon-juniper landscapes of the Arkansas River valley in south-central Colorado, on lands managed by the BLM Royal Gorge Field Office (BLM-RGFO), where 17,000 acres (7080 ha) have been treated in over 300 fuels treatments between 1998 and 2009. Building on a pilot study conducted in 2012 at the request of land managers, the objectives the proposed research are to: 1) Characterize effects of fuels treatments and relationships between piñon-juniper avian communities, vegetation composition and structure, landscape attributes, and fuels. 2) Develop metrics of the ecological effects of fuels treatments based on these relationships. Avian occupancy is a novel and promising such metric, because bird habitat selection integrates both stand-level and landscape-scale variation. 3) Model fire behavior, fuels, and vegetation dynamics in treated and untreated piñon-juniper stands. We seek $192,501 from JFSP to complete these objectives through bird point counts, vegetation and fuels sampling, quantification of landscape attributes, and statistical and simulation models. Data will be collected at 15-20 hydroaxe treatment sites and 15-20 hand-thinning treatment sites paired with 30-40 untreated control sites on lands managed by the RGFO. The information provided at each step of the way will lead directly to management recommendations and applications. The proposed research will be completed between 2013 and 2016; study findings will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications, field trips, webinars, and presentations at conferences and local district offices.

Principal Investigator: Jonathan D. Coop

Agency/Organization: Western State Colorado University

Branch or Dept: Environmental Studies Program

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Janice E. Welborn

Western State Colorado University

Sponsored Programs & Grants

Budget Contact

Janice E. Welborn

Western State Colorado University

Sponsored Programs & Grants

Co-Principal Investigator

Patrick A. Magee

Western State Colorado University

Department of Biology

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Southern Rockies









Royal Gorge Field Office

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   3755 Journal Article Forest Ecology and Management
  go to website 7856 Website Integrating Fuels Treatments and Ecological Values in Piñon-Juniper Woodlands
view or print   7859 Photo P-J mastication bird survey
view or print   7860 Photo P-J treatment field trip
view or print   7861 Photo P-J landscape
view or print   7862 Photo P-J mastication fuels transect
    7854 Invited Paper/Presentation Management of piñon-juniper woodlands in the Arkansas River Valley
    7855 Poster Invasive plant proliferation and persistence following fuel treatment projects in P-J woodlands
    7853 Invited Paper/Presentation Effects of piñon-juniper woodland thinning on avian communities
    7849 Invited Paper/Presentation Mastication treatments in piñon-juniper woodlands: fuels, vegetation, and bird responses
    7850 Invited Paper/Presentation Fuel treatments, fire hazard, and obligate avifauna in piñon-juniper woodlands
  go to website 7851 Field Demonstration/Tour Field Tour: Fuels Treatments and Ecological Values in PJ Woodlands
    7852 Invited Paper/Presentation Ecological impacts and modeled fire behavior in piñon-juniper fuels treatments

Supporting Documents

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