Outcomes Prioritization on Fuel Treatment Placement in Extreme Fire Weather in 3 CFLRP Landscapes
Principal Investigator(s):
Co-Principal Investigator(s):
  • Matthew D. Hurteau
    University of New Mexico
  • Robert M. Scheller
Completion Date: September 3, 2019

Cataloging Information

  • CFLRP - Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program
  • fire simulations
  • forest management
  • fuel treatment planning
  • mechanical thinning
JFSP Project Number(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: October 10, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 58741


Active forest management practices (e.g., mechanical thinning, prescribed fire) for reducing fire risk and enhancing forest integrity have become essential in many U.S. forests. The risks of inaction and escalating costs of continued fire suppression far outweigh the risks of implementation. Fuel treatments are well known to reduce the intensity and spread of wildfires at the stand level. Their effectiveness is, however, also reliant on the timing of future wildfires and the location of fuel treatments across a landscape. When developing fuel treatment plans, managers must consider treatment placement and maintenance frequency. Fuel treatment prescriptions (e.g., mechanical thinning, prescribed fire) and characteristics (e.g., size of fuels removed, re-application interval) vary greatly, although their implementation is determined by the current and desired state of the forest, location, topography, and implementation costs. Quantifying treatment effectiveness requires an understanding of its contribution to reducing landscape-scale wildfire risk and other management objectives. However, the influence of both anthropogenic and climate drivers of future wildfire add uncertainty to the treatment placement decision-making framework. In order to attempt to reduce this uncertainty, we propose to simulate landscape-scale fuel treatments across three intensively-managed landscapes in the western and eastern U.S. that are associated with the federal Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP). Our simulations will focus on identifying highest-priority areas under extreme fire weather conditions, and developing an array of adaptable strategies for future management in a changing world. We will identify both landscape-specific and general determinants of high-priority fuel treatment areas including spatial configurations, biotic factors (e.g., overstory composition), abiotic factors (e.g., slope, aspect), and infrastructure components (e.g., distance to roads and structures). This combined information is critical for creating resilient landscapes through a collaborative process. This project will provide an array of adaptable strategies, with quantifiable differences in outcomes, which can be implemented into future management based on changing needs and resources. The broader applicability of these results across regions (SW, PNW, SE of the U.S.) will be disseminated through three Fire Science Consortium webinars and news briefs, three publications, as well as manager and scientific meetings.