Fuel and vegetation trends after wildfire in treated versus untreated forests

TitleFuel and vegetation trends after wildfire in treated versus untreated forests
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsCram, DS
Secondary AuthorsBaker, TT
Tertiary AuthorsFernald, AG
Subsidiary AuthorsCibils, AF, VanLeeuwen, DM
JournalForest Science
Start Page753
Keywordsconifer mortality, fire effects, forest management, resiliency, technical reports and journal articles, understory response

Increasing size and severity of wildfires have led to increased interest in managing forests for resiliency to future disturbances. Comparing and contrasting treated versus untreated stands through multiple growing seasons postfire provide an opportunity to understand processes driving responses and can guide management decisions regarding resiliency. In treated and untreated forests, we compared fire effects 2‐10 growing seasons following fire on 3 different fires in New Mexico and Arizona. We estimated understory cover, standing crop, fuel loading, and basal area in (1) lop, pile, burn; (2) lop and scatter; (3) harvest and burn; and (4) untreated control stands. Untreated sites had persistent bare soil exposure and less litter cover up to 10 growing seasons after fire. However, there were few differences in standing crop among years and treatments. Falling rampikes contributed to greater coarse woody debris on untreated sites versus treated sites 6‐10 years postfire. However, there were few differences in fine fuel loading among treatments. Proactive management using the full range of silvicultural tools can reduce fire severity and create desired stand conditions, depending on management objectives.