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Project ID: 09-1-10-7

Year: 2009

Date Started: 09/01/2009

Date Completed: 06/20/2013

Title: A Comparison of Fire Severity Patterns in the Late 19th and early 21st Century in a Mixed Conifer Forest Landscape in the Southern Cascades

Project Proposal Abstract: The extent and severity of fires in the United States during the last decade has increased to more than twice the yearly average area over the previous decade. A major cause of this increase is the accumulated impact of a century or more of fire suppression which has increased forest fuels. The problem is most acute in pine and mixed conifer forests that used to burn frequently. Forest harvesting, and recent climate change have exacerbated the fuel build-up problem increasing the risk of severe fire effects in these ecosystems. There is considerable scientific debate on whether the severity of fires has increased in mixed conifer forests in California in recent decades. One of the largest unknowns for managers in considering an Appropriate Management Response (AMR) for fire severity is that for most places, we dont know if contemporary burn severity patterns are, or are not, within the historical range of variability. The Cub Fire of 2008 burned through a site with a detailed fire history and vegetation study that included fire severity patterns in the late 19th century. By re-measuring vegetation plots and measuring fire effects we can compare the severity patterns in 2008 with a landscape that had not experienced fire suppression. The site has never been logged so severity differences will be related to fire history and vegetation structure, topography, changes in vegetation and fuels since the onset of fire suppression, and weather conditions during the fire. The specific objectives of our project are to: 1) identify and compare the fire effects in 2008 with estimates of fire behavior derived from before and after fire measurements of vegetation and fuels; 2) identify landscape patterns of fire severity for the 2008 fire using remote sensing and compare the severity to simulations of landscape fire behavior using the pre-fire vegetation and fuels data as input to the model; 3) compare the spatial patterns of fire severity and simulated fire intensity for the 2008 fires to spatial patterns of pre-fire suppression period fire frequency and fire severity; and 4) identify additional weather, topographic, and vegetation variables that contributed to the severity patterns of the 2008 fire using spatial overlay analysis and ordinal logistic regression. Science delivery will occur with a combination of reports, conference presentation, a workshop, a masters thesis, and publication in referred journals.

Principal Investigator: Alan H. Taylor

Agency/Organization: Pennsylvania State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Geography

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Federal Cooperator

Carl N. Skinner

Forest Service

PSW-Silviculture Lab-Redding

Federal Fiscal Representative

Anna Wong

Forest Service

PSW-Pacific Southwest Research Station

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Lassen National Forest

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.")

There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

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