From the Management Implications (p.139-140)... 'Our findings indicate that fuel treatments do mitigate fire severity. Treatments provide a window of opportunity for effective fire suppression and protecting high-value areas. Although topography and weather may play a more important role than fuels in governing fire behavior (Bessie and Johnson 1995), topography and weather cannot be realistically manipulated to reduce fire severity. Fuels are the leg of the fire environment triangle (Countryman 1972) that land managers can change to achieve desired post-fire condition. However, in extreme weather conditions, such as drought and high winds, fuel treatments may do little to mitigate fire spread or severity. There are at least three ways to reduce tree densities and accomplish fuel treatment: wildfire, prescribed fire and mechanical thinning. The first, reliance on wild-fires, is impractical. Letting natural fires play their historical role may have unwanted effects in forests that have undergone major stand structural changes over the past years of fire exclusion. In many ponderosa pine forests choked with dense, small-diameter trees, or encroached by shade-tolerant trees, natural fires may no longer play a strategic role.... Fuel treatment programs may be costly and time-consuming. But wildfire problems aren*t going away soon. We suggest focusing programs, funding and management attention where the risk resulting from severe wildfire is greatest: urban-interface, tree plantations, critical watersheds and habitat for threatened and endangered species. Treating high-volume areas using mechanized equipment could offset costs associated with fuel removal on steep slopes with little timber. Costs associated with wildfire suppression, in terms of funding suppression efforts and personal safety, far outweigh the costs of fuel treatment on similar landscapes.' © University of Idaho 2000. Abstract reproduced by permission.