Document


Title

Quantifying the effects of fuels reduction treatments on fire behavior and post-fire vegetation dynamics - Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program
Document Type: Report
Author(s): T. Scott Rupp; Roger D. Ottmar; Bret W. Butler
Publication Year: 2011

Cataloging Information

Keyword(s):
  • FERA - Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
  • fire research
  • forest management
  • fuel removal treatments
  • fuel treatments
  • mechanical fuel treatment
  • post-fire vegetation
Region(s):
JFSP Project Number(s):
06-2-1-39
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: March 23, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 11426

Description

Concerns about wildland fuel levels and a growing wildland-urban interface (WUI) have pushed wildland fire risk mitigation strategies to the forefront of fire management activities. Mechanical (e.g., shearblading) and manual (e.g., thinning) fuel treatments have become the preferred strategy of many fire managers and agencies. This Joint Fire Science Program funded project seeks to document and quantify mechanical and manual fuel treatment effects on fire behavior. Alaska's Federal and State fire management agencies have identified this 'data gap' as their most important fire science research need and priority. The Nenana Ridge Ruffed Grouse Project Area is 6,000 acres of typical interior Alaska boreal forest located 30 miles southwest of Fairbanks, Alaska. The experimental burn site is approximately 930 acres with approximately 550 acres of relatively homogenous closed black spruce with a typical understory of moss, lichen and ericaceous shrubs. The experimental design calls for paired burn measurements to facilitate direct comparisons between the control vegetation matrix and the treatments. We are testing 8 x 8 ft thinning pruned to 4 ft under two different fuel removal strategies: (1) haul away, (2) burn piles on site; additionally we are testing mechanical treatments with and without windrowing and burning on site. We inventoried the existing vegetation, including ground vegetation, understory and overstory trees and tree crowns, organic layer, and dead-down woody surface fuels throughout the control vegetation matrix. Following treatments we inventoried understory and overstory trees and tree crowns, organic layer, and dead-down woody surface fuels. Fire behavior was monitored extensively from the time of ignition until steady state behavior ceased using a combination of cameras, video, direct observations, and thermal dataloggers. Consumption plots were located in both treatment units and the control vegetation. This research has lead to the first quantified test of the effects of fuel reduction treatments on fire behavior in Alaska. Our results provide the first set of data required by fire behavior models, fuels characterization systems, and fire effects models. In addition, we are providing guidelines directed at design and methodology that can be used to assist in carrying out other experimental burns in Alaska when opportunity arises.

Online Link(s):
Link to this document (753 KB; pdf)
Citation:
Rupp, T. Scott; Ottmar, Roger D.; Butler, Bret. 2011. Quantifying the effects of fuels reduction treatments on fire behavior and post-fire vegetation dynamics - Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program. JFSP Project No. 06-2-1-39. Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Fairbanks. 21 p.