Compared to historic conditions, many forests in the U.S. are now more dense and have more down fuels.
For years, managers have recognized this problem and have acted to reduce stem density and fuels by thinning, burning, and/or fuel treatments.
Although silvicultural treatments can mimic the effects of fire on structural patterns of woody vegetation, virtually no comparative data exist on how these treatments mimic ecological functions of fire. For many, the long term goal of these treatments is to restore historic ecosystem structure and function. While silvicultural treatments can create patterns of woody vegetation that appear similar to those that fire would create, the consequences for nutrient cycling, seed scarification, plant diversity, disease and insect abundance, and wildlife are mostly unknown. Similarly, although combining managed fire with silvicultural treatments adds the critical effects of combustion, we know little about ecological effects, economics, and fire hazard reduction of these methods.
The Fire-Fire Surrogate (FFS) study responds to this void in our knowledge.
The USDI-USDA Joint Fire Science Program has provided funding for a long-term study to assess how ecological components or processes may be changed or lost, if fire "surrogates" such as cuttings and mechanical fuel treatments are used instead of fire, or in combination with fire.
The robust experimental design of the Fire and Fire Surrogate study is often ideal for collaborative studies with other scientists. As such, we encourage others to work with us in expanding our project to other subject areas. For example, the Fire and Fire Surrogate study currently supports collaborative studies on canopy fuel loading, the American fisher, and the Indiana bat, among others. While funded independently, each of these projects benefits through an existing experimental framework that includes replicated treatments, random selection of experimental units of a minimum size, and reliable agreements with local managers to insure the maintenance of site conditions through time. If you have a project that may be suitable for collaborating with one or more FFS sites, please contact the appropriate site manager, or the FFS project coordinator.
For more information or to make comments on this study or the website, please contact Jim McIver.
FFS Project Funded By