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Project ID: 12-1-03-31

Year: 2013

Date Started: 12/15/2012

Date Completed: 11/14/2016

Title: Longevity and Effectiveness of Mechanical Mastication Treatments

Project Proposal Abstract: Longevity and Effectiveness of Mechanical Mastication Treatments PI: Dr. J. Morgan Varner, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA Co-PI: Dr. Eric E. Knapp, USDA Pacific Southwest Research Station, Redding, CA Collaborator: Dr. Stacy Drury, Sonoma Technology Inc. Mechanical mastication is an increasingly common fuels management treatment in fire-prone forests and rangelands in the US. Mastication is commonly used in fuelbreaks and along the wildland-urban interface, often in lieu of prescribed fire or other mechanical treatments. By reducing vertical fuels to a compact woody fuelbed, mastication allows improved firefighter access for fire suppression and can make subsequent prescribed fires easier to implement. This proposal directly addresses a need for information regarding the effectiveness and longevity of fuels treatments as stated in the JFSP 2011 RFA 2012-1. In Task 3: Fuel Treatment Effectiveness, the JFSP solicits proposals that will aid land managers in the decision-making process with respect to treating fuels across landscapes. As indicated in the RFA many factors influence fuel treatment effectiveness including treatment type, intensity, size, frequency, season, age, and site. In this proposal we propose to investigate the effectiveness and longevity of mechanical mastication as a fuels treatment in fire-prone northern California and southwest Oregon. Our past experience with masticated fuels provides us with a unique opportunity to identify the effectiveness and longevity of mastication across varying pre-treatment vegetation types, using contrasting mechanical methods, and across a variety of site characteristics. The results generated in this study will enhance the information available to land mangers regarding the viability of masticating fuels across landscapes by evaluating Topic 1) how effective are mastication treatments for meeting fire behavior objectives? Topic 2) how long are mastication treatments effective for meeting fire behavior mitigation objectives? and Topic 3) what measures of fire behavior or ecosystem response are useful indicators of fuels treatment effectiveness? What we know about the effects of mastication pales in comparison to what we dont: 1) the effects of time since treatment on vegetation recovery (in this region, primarily shrub re-growth); 2) changes in fuelbed characteristics over time (bulk density, fuelbed depth, particle density); and 3) the fundamental effects of fuelbed aging on potential fire behavior. All three areas above play a role in treatment effectiveness  the probability of modifying fire behavior and effects over the untreated condition. Providing useful metrics that rapidly assess how these fuels vary over time with respect to mitigating fire behavior will enable land managers to make more educated decisions about where and when to use mechanical mastication as a fuel treatment tool. In this proposal, we propose to utilize previously JFSP funded sites and a research team (Varner and Knapp) that was a model for JFSP success- reasonable budget, an abundance and breadth of science delivery (from field tours to talks to 7 peer-reviewed journal articles). We will exceed our past work via our lessons learned, improved capacity, and affiliation with the JFSP-funded California Science Delivery Consortium and the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council. Finally, by collaborating closely with the developers of IFTDSS, we hope to integrate our findings to assist in fuels treatment planning.

Principal Investigator: Morgan J. Varner III

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: PNW-AirFire Research Team

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Mary C Thoen

Humboldt State University

Sponsored Programs Foundation

Budget Contact

Mary C Thoen

Humboldt State University

Sponsored Programs Foundation

Co-Principal Investigator

Eric E. Knapp

Forest Service

PSW-Silviculture Lab-Redding


Stacy A. Drury

Forest Service

PSW-Pacific Southwest Research Station

Funding Cooperator

Andrew W. Ezell

Mississippi State University

Department of Forestry

Funding Cooperator

Eric E. Knapp

Forest Service

PSW-Silviculture Lab-Redding

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network







Pacific Coast States


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 go to website 1866 Government Publication Mechanical mastication as a fuels treatment in southeastern forests.
view or print   3483 Journal Article Forest Ecology and Management
view or print   3730 Journal Article International Journal of Wildland Fire
view or print   355 MS Thesis Fuels treatment longevity of mechanical mastication and growth response of ponderosa pine (Pinus pon
view or print   356 MS Thesis Long-term Fuel and Vegetation Responses to Mechanical Mastication in northern California and souther
view or print   7845 Final Report Supplement Annotated Bibliography of Mechanical Mastication Research
  go to website 7448 Website Masticated Fuels Website
    7831 Conference/Symposia/Workshop The fire behavior and ecological effects of mechanical mastication
    7832 Invited Paper/Presentation Effects of mastication on ponderosa pine tree growth and mortality
    7833 Invited Paper/Presentation The use of mastication as an ecological restoration tool
    7834 Invited Paper/Presentation Mechanical mastication as a fuels treatment tool- promise and challenges
    7835 Invited Paper/Presentation Fire behavior in masticated fuelbeds: A review.
    7836 Invited Paper/Presentation Effects of mastication and supplemental fuels treatments on growth and mortality of Pinus ponderosa.
    7837 Invited Paper/Presentation The consequences of fuelbed aging on laboratory fire behavior of masticated fuelbeds.
    7838 Poster Effects of mastication on ponderosa pine tree growth and mortality.
    7839 Poster Long-term changes in masticated fuelbeds in northern California and southern Oregon.
    7840 Poster The effects of mastication and supplemental fuels treatments on residual pine growth and mortality.
    7841 Poster Pinus ponderosa growth and mortality following mastication in California, USA.
    7842 Poster A bibliography of mechanical mastication.
    7843 Field Demonstration/Tour Six Rivers National Forest Mastication Tour
    7844 Training Session RX-310: Mechanical mastication as a fuels treatment: fire behavior and ecological effects.

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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