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Project ID: 14-1-01-18

Year: 2014

Date Started: 10/01/2014

Ending Date:  10/01/2018

Title: Assessing factors that influence landscape fuels treatment effectiveness

Project Proposal Abstract: Policy initiatives such as the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (OPLMA 2009) have emphasized landscape-scale (> 10,000 ac) fuel reduction treatments to mitigate negative impacts of large, uncharacteristic wildfires in the western United States. While primary objectives of much smaller stand-scale fuels treatments include modification of wildland fire behavior and enhanced suppression opportunities and firefighter safety, landscape-scale objectives are intended to reduce fire intensity and rate of spread and alter patterns of fire severity. Previous research has proposed that reducing surface and canopy fuels effectively reduces negative impacts of wildfire on forests (Agee and Skinner 2005). However, such studies have generally been conducted in idealized hypothetical situations (Finney 2001,) or have used modeling frameworks that do not fully account for the influence of interactions between the fire, fuels complex, atmosphere and topography on fire behavior and effects across landscapes (Finney 2004 & 2006, Vaillant et al. 2013). Recent research has shown that interactions between fire, wind and complex topography can result in strong near-surface winds that may influence fire behavior (Coen and Riggan 2010). Failure to consider these interactions in modeling studies greatly limits development of theoretical frameworks that describe the influence of fuels treatment pattern and amount on landscape-scale fire effects and reduces the applicability of any gained knowledge to real-world landscape-scale fuels treatment planning. Therefore, there is a critical need to better understand how feedbacks created by interactions between fire, fuels, topography and the atmosphere influence the effectiveness of fuel treatments across landscapes. In the absence of such knowledge, it will be difficult for managers to assess potential benefits and tradeoffs of alternative landscape-scale treatment designs. Our overarching objective in this proposal is to increase our understanding of the mechanisms that influence the effectiveness of landscape scale fuels treatments. More specifically we will address JFSP FON 14-1-01 Task Statement 1, questions 1 and question 4. Successful completion of this project will: 1) provide better information to managers about the influence of landscape treatment pattern on landscape fuel treatment effectiveness, 2) increase our understanding of the potential effects of treatment size, treatment configuration, topography, environmental conditions and treatment age on landscape fuel treatment effectiveness, 3) increase our understanding of the potential for landscape-scale fuels treatments to provide benefits beyond point protection, 4) improve conceptual frameworks for landscape fuels treatment design, and 5) offer guidance to land managers with respect to circumstances under which fire models of varying complexity may provide reasonably reliable predictions at landscape scales. Ultimately, the knowledge developed in this work will allow land managers to better design landscape fuels treatments and evaluate landscape-scale benefits of fuels treatments.

Principal Investigator: Chad M. Hoffman

Agency/Organization: Colorado State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Forest, Rangeland & Watershed Stewardship

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Vi T. Ta

Forest Service

PNW-Pacific Northwest Research Station

Budget Contact

Rebecca A. Slick

Forest Service

PNW-Pacific Northwest Research Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Yvette L. Dickinson

Colorado State University

Colorado Forest Restoration Institute

Co-Principal Investigator

Seth A. Ex

Colorado State University

Warner College of Natural Resources

Co-Principal Investigator

Russell A. Parsons

Forest Service

RMRS-Fire Sciences Lab-Missoula

Funding Cooperator

William E. Mell

Forest Service

PNW-Seattle-Managing Natural Disturbances

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network

Southern Rockies






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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