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Project ID: 16-1-05-20

Year: 2016

Date Started: 09/01/2016

Ending Date:  03/03/2020

Title: Post-fire restoration to avert novel conditions in Sierra Nevada Forests

Project Proposal Abstract: Extreme fires that generate large patches of high severity burn are posing a key challenge for management of National Forests in California and other parts of the Western U.S. These conditions have potential to impact several ecosystem processes in ways that promote ecologically novel conditions, including the loss of mature trees over extensive areas, limited seed sources for tree regeneration, and creation of uncharacteristic fuel beds that could feed future fires. Post-fire logging to remove dead trees and facilitate replanting, as well as to salvage economic value, has generated controversy over whether such treatments help or hinder ecological recovery. Our research proposal has emerged from two recent synthesis efforts, a literature review chapter on post-fire management in the Sierra Nevada science synthesis that highlighted the importance of these issues for forest plan revision, and most recently, a workshop convened by the Region 5 Ecology Program on developing guidance for managers who are increasingly called upon to conduct restoration for large burned areas. At that event, staff from several National Forests and researchers from the Pacific Southwest Research Station considered 1) where interventions may be ecologically important; and 2) what management actions can effectively steer trajectories back to reference or desirable conditions over the long-term? These two overarching questions will be addressed in this research that will engage scientists and managers in integrating published scientific information and recent actual post-fire case studies in California. This proposal will include in-depth analysis from our study area, which includes 19 wildfires on ten National Forests in the Sierra Nevada, southern Cascade Range and North Coast Range of central and northern California. The analysis will focus of three key ecological processes: 1) development of fuels and potential for short-term reburn (using combined analysis of aerial photos and field plots); 2) changes in vegetation (based upon 1800 vegetation plots across the study area); and 3) changes in wildlife populations (birds and small mammals) and key habitat features (based upon literature review and an integrated analysis of data from several studies of large fires in the region). We will evaluate the influence of burn severity patch size on forest structure, forest regeneration, and wildlife populations while examining how landscape attributes as well as post-fire management actions (harvest and replanting) influence successional trajectories. We will then work collaboratively with forest managers who have experienced post-fire situations to examine how post-fire harvest/fuel reduction and replanting might effectively reduce and break up patterns of fuel loads and support wildlife communities in ways that avert ecologically novel conditions. The scope of our research will include informing restoration strategies for various post-fire landscapes, including lower versus upper montane, forest vs. chaparral, and moister (west side Sierra Nevada) versus drier (east side Sierra Nevada) contexts. To ensure that we deliver high-quality science to the managers who need it, we will convene science-manager workshops, write peer-reviewed publications and research briefs, and work with the California Fire Science Consortium to deliver products through webinars and their website. The science-manager workshops will guide development of two general technical reports that will be jointly authored by researchers and managers.

Principal Investigator: Jonathan W. Long

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: PSW-Pacific Southwest Research Station

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Brian T. Hanlon

Forest Service

PSW-Pacific Southwest Research Station

Budget Contact

Anna Wong

Forest Service

PSW-Pacific Southwest Research Station

Co-Principal Investigator

Brandon M. Collins

Forest Service

PSW-Sierra Nevada Research Center

Co-Principal Investigator

Marc Meyer

Forest Service

PSW-Sierra Nevada Research Center

Co-Principal Investigator

Malcolm P. North

Forest Service

PSW-Sierra Nevada Research Center

Co-Principal Investigator

Angela M. White

Forest Service

PSW-Pacific Southwest Research Station

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Pacific Southwest Research Station

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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