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Project ID: 13-1-04-4

Year: 2013

Date Started: 01/01/2014

Ending Date:  12/31/2017

Title: Monitoring Effectiveness of Forest Restoration Treatments: The Importance of Time and Space

Project Proposal Abstract: Thinning and prescribed burning treatments are widely used in restoration of frequent- and mixed-fire regime forests. However, knowledge of the effectiveness of these treatments in meeting both fuels reduction and ecosystem restoration objectives is poor. To some degree, this reflects the limited scope of available research, but it also reflects a more basic challenge  identifying the metrics, and their temporal and spatial scales of measurement, necessary to judge the ecological effectiveness of these treatments. The proposed research is motivated by two fundamental questions: (1) To what extent are the objectives of fuels reduction and ecological restoration compatible (and when do they represent tradeoffs)? and (2) Which ecological metrics are most useful in characterizing the effectiveness of fuels treatments in meeting ecosystem restoration objectives? We will also consider key variables likely to influence the answers to these questions: treatment type, environmental context, and pre-treatment structure. To ensure project feasibility within budgetary and time constraints, we will focus on ecosystem restoration objectives related to vegetation (overstory and understory). Our research has two components. The first component is a systematic survey of the scientific literature to document and evaluate the range of metrics used to assess the effectiveness of fuels treatments in meeting vegetation-related ecosystem restoration objectives. The survey will synthesize existing knowledge and identify gaps in understanding. It will evaluate the quality of evidence that fuels treatments are meeting restoration objectives and how conclusions are influenced by the choice of metric and the spatial or temporal scale of measurement. The second component uses long-term experimental data to evaluate how temporal and spatial scales of observation influence the behavior of vegetation metrics and their utility as ecological indicators of fuels treatment effectiveness. We will remeasure the fuels reduction experiment at Mission Creek, part of the Fire and Fire Surrogates network. The sampling design at this site is spatially hierarchical, allowing vegetation metrics to be compared across a range of spatial scales (1 m2 to 10 ha) at contrasting times after treatment (2-3 vs. 12-13 years). We will assess three aspects of metric behavior: (i) consistency across temporal and spatial scales; (ii) redundancy, the degree to which metrics provide similar or unique information; and (iii) sensitivity, the ability of metrics to distinguish among treatments. Our research will benefit managers in two important ways: (1) by highlighting the quality of evidence and the conditions under which treatments designed primarily for fuels reduction are also meeting ecological restoration objectives, and (2) by providing guidance on metric selection  including the type, timing, and spatial scales of measurement  allowing managers to more efficiently assess whether fuels treatments are meeting their objectives.

Principal Investigator: Jonathan D. Bakker

Agency/Organization: University of Washington

Branch or Dept: School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Carol Rhodes

University of Washington

Office of Sponsored Programs

Budget Contact

Sally L. Morgan

University of Washington

School of Forest Resources

Co-Principal Investigator

Charles B. Halpern

University of Washington

School of Forest Resources

Co-Principal Investigator

Richy J. Harrod

Forest Service

Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests


David W. Peterson

Forest Service

PNW-Forestry Sciences Lab-Wenatchee

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network







Pacific Coast States


Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
  ID Type Title
view or print   364 MS Thesis Responses of dry forest understory diversity to thinning and burning: importance of time and space

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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