Forest fuel management
A clear understanding of the connectivity, structure, and composition of wildland fuels is essential for effective wildfire management. However, fuel typing and mapping are challenging owing to a broad diversity of fuel conditions and their spatial and temporal heterogeneity.
Large and downed woody fuels remaining behind a wildfire’s flame front tend to burn in a smoldering regime, producing large quantities of toxic gases and particulate emissions, which deteriorates air quality and compromises human health. Smoldering burning rates are affected by fuel type and size, the amount of oxygen reaching the surface, and heat losses to the surroundings.
Wildfire futures and aboveground carbon (C) dynamics associated with forest restoration programs that integrate resource objective wildfire as part of a larger treatment strategy are not well understood.
Accelerating disturbance activity under a warming climate increases the potential for multiple disturbances to overlap and produce compound effects that erode ecosystem resilience — the capacity to experience disturbance without transitioning to an alternative state.
Recent fire seasons brought a new fire reality to the western US, and motivated federal agencies to explore scenarios for augmenting current fuel management and forest restoration in areas where fires might threatencritical resources and developed areas. To support this effort, we modeled the scheduling of an accelerated forest and fuel management scenario on 76 western US national forests.
Fuel reduction treatments to reduce fire risk have become commonplace in the fire adapted forests of western North America. These treatments generate significant woody debris, or slash, and burning this material in piles is a common and inexpensive approach to reducing fuel loads.