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Project ID: 17-1-01-9

Year: 2017

Date Started: 10/01/2017

Ending Date:  10/01/2020

Title: Landscape fuel treatments and wildland fire management strategies within recent large fire events

Project Proposal Abstract: With continued climate warming, wildfire seasons of similar duration and severity to the 2014 and 2015 fire seasons are increasingly probable. As land management agencies progress with implementing the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, guidance on where and when landscape fuel reduction treatments will mitigate subsequent wildfire behavior and directly assist in active fire management is needed. In this proposal, we will evaluate the effects of prior fuel reduction treatments and past wildfires on burn severity and firefighting operations within recent large fires of north-central Washington State. Prior wildfires and past treatments (i.e., mechanical thinning and/or prescribed burning) span multiple agencies and land ownerships, including the Colville Reservation (CIR), Colville (CNF) and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests (OWNFs) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) lands. We will compile geospatial layers of past wildfires and fuel reduction treatments and evaluate how treatments contributed to two central goals of the Cohesive Strategy--restoring fire resilient landscapes and promoting safe and effective firefighting response. Through a retrospective study of past fuel reduction treatments and burn severity, we will assess how prior treatments and their biophysical context mitigated subsequent fire effects. We will identify thresholds under which treatments were ineffective -- including treatment type, size and configuration, time since treatment, topographic position, and exposure to prevailing wind. To evaluate how treatments assisted firefighting operations, we will conduct post-incident interviews with fire management teams to compile lessons learned about specific ways treatment type, configuration and landscape position assisted in safe and effective wildfire response, and where such treatments failed. Using operational fire models within the Wildland Fire Decisions Support System, simulations of fire spread, intensity, and suppression difficulty will be used to assess how treatments could be better configured to restore landscape resilience to wildfire, accounting for constraints including management boundaries, neighboring communities, and highly valued resources and assets. Because fire heeds no administrative boundaries, our emphasis on multiple land ownerships will be particularly useful in evaluating how future fuel reduction treatments can be coordinated across ownerships and land allocations. We will communicate our findings through a final report, peer-reviewed manuscripts and webinars. We will highlight lessons learned, addressing how strategic placement of treatments can create landscape patchworks that are resilient to wildfires and that can be strategically managed.

Principal Investigator: Susan J. Prichard

Agency/Organization: University of Washington

Branch or Dept: School of Forest Resources

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Vi T. Ta

Forest Service

PNW-Pacific Northwest Research Station

Budget Contact

Phillip A. Won

Forest Service

PNW-Pacific Northwest Research Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Robert W. Gray

R. W. Gray Consulting Ltd.

Co-Principal Investigator

Paul F. Hessburg

Forest Service

PNW-Forestry Sciences Lab-Wenatchee

Co-Principal Investigator

Nicholas A. Povak

Forest Service

PSW-Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry

Co-Principal Investigator

R. B. Salter

Forest Service

PNW-EPF-Ecological Process & Function-Wenatchee


James D. Dickinson

Forest Service

Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests


Richy J. Harrod

Forest Service

Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests


Van R. Kane

University of Washington

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Funding Cooperator

Roger D. Ottmar

Forest Service

PNW-Seattle-Managing Natural Disturbances

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network







Pacific Coast States


Project Deliverables

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

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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