Efficacy of mechanical fuel treatments for reducing wildfire hazard
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Robert J. Huggett Jr.; Karen L. Abt; Wayne D. Shepperd
Publication Year: 2008

Cataloging Information

  • age classes
  • Colorado
  • coniferous forests
  • fire hazard reduction
  • fire hazard reduction
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • flame length
  • forest management
  • fuel accumulation
  • fuel loading
  • fuel management
  • fuel moisture
  • fuel treatment
  • mechanical treatments
  • overstory
  • population density
  • SDI - stand density index
  • site treatments
  • stand characteristics
  • surface fuels
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 30, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 21754
Tall Timbers Record Number: 22723
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Mechanical fuel treatments are increasingly being used for wildfire hazard reduction in the western U.S. However, the efficacy of these treatments for reducing wildfire hazard at a landscape scale is difficult to quantify, especially when including growth following treatment. A set of uneven- and even-aged treatments designed to reduce fire hazard were simulated on 0.8 million hectares of timberland in Colorado. Wildfire hazard ratings using torching and crowning indices were developed; stands were selected for treatment; treatment was simulated and hazard ratings were reassessed. The results show that the even-aged treatments initially place more area within our hazard thresholds than do the uneven-aged treatments and that the uneven-aged treatment that removes more small stems reduces risk more than the treatment removing more large stems. The treatment costs follow the same pattern, with the even-aged treatments costing least. However, potential revenues are, as expected, higher for the uneven-aged large treatment. The results also show that both higher costs and higher revenues accrue to the treatments applied to the higher risk stands. Treatments also have differing risk reductions depending on the initial risk category. Even without considering growth or revenues, the outcomes of a state-level treatment program are difficult to estimate. This implies that at a minimum, forest-level, if not state-level analyses including overall measures of risk reduction, costs, revenues and long-term effects need to be conducted in concert with setting priorities for treating timberlands.

Online Link(s):
Huggett Jr., Robert J.; Abt, Karen L.; Shepperd, Wayne D. 2008. Efficacy of mechanical fuel treatments for reducing wildfire hazard. Forest Policy and Economics 10(6):408-414.