International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
REVIEW

Ecological effects of alternative fuel-reduction treatments: highlights of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate study (FFS)

James D. McIver A T , Scott L. Stephens B , James K. Agee C , Jamie Barbour D , Ralph E. J. Boerner E , Carl B. Edminster F , Karen L. Erickson A , Kerry L. Farris G , Christopher J. Fettig H , Carl E. Fiedler I , Sally Haase J , Stephen C. Hart K , Jon E. Keeley L , Eric E. Knapp M , John F. Lehmkuhl N , Jason J. Moghaddas B , William Otrosina O , Kenneth W. Outcalt O , Dylan W. Schwilk P , Carl N. Skinner M , Thomas A. Waldrop Q , C. Phillip Weatherspoon U , Daniel A. Yaussy R , Andrew Youngblood S and Steve Zack G
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Oregon State University, PO Box E, Union, OR 97883, USA.

B Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California, Berkeley, 137 Mulford Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

C School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, Box 352100, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

D Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 333 SW 1st Avenue, Portland, OR 97204, USA.

E Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, 280 Aronoff Laboratory, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

F Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 2500 S Pine Knoll Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA.

G Wildlife Conservation Society, North America Program, 718 Southwest Alder Street, Portland, OR 97205, USA.

H Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 1731 Research Park Drive, Davis, CA 95618, USA.

I University of Montana, College of Forestry and Conservation, 32 Campus Drive, Missoula, MT 59812, USA.

J Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 4955 Canyon Crest Drive, Riverside, CA 92507, USA.

K School of Natural Sciences and Sierra Nevada Research Institute, University of California, 5200 North Lake Road, Merced, CA 95343, USA.

L US Geological Survey, Western Regional Research Center, Sequoia and Kings Canyon Field Station, 47050 Generals Highway #4, Three Rivers, CA 93271, USA.

M Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 3644 Avtech Parkway, Redding, CA 96002, USA.

N Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 1133 N Western Avenue, Wenatchee, WA 98801, USA.

O Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 320 Green Street, Athens, GA 30602, USA.

P Department of Biological Sciences, Box 43131, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA.

Q Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 233 Lehotsky Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA.

R Forestry Science Laboratory, Northern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 359 Main Road, Delaware, OH 43015, USA.

S Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 1401 Gekeler Lane, La Grande, OR 97850, USA.

T Corresponding author. Email: james.mciver@oregonstate.edu

U Retired.

International Journal of Wildland Fire 22(1) 63-82 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF11130
Submitted: 8 September 2011  Accepted: 31 July 2012   Published: 31 October 2012

Abstract

The 12-site National Fire and Fire Surrogate study (FFS) was a multivariate experiment that evaluated ecological consequences of alternative fuel-reduction treatments in seasonally dry forests of the US. Each site was a replicated experiment with a common design that compared an un-manipulated control, prescribed fire, mechanical and mechanical + fire treatments. Variables within the vegetation, fuelbed, forest floor and soil, bark beetles, tree diseases and wildlife were measured in 10-ha stands, and ecological response was compared among treatments at the site level, and across sites, to better understand the influence of differential site conditions. For most sites, treated stands were predicted to be more resilient to wildfire if it occurred shortly after treatment, but for most ecological variables, short-term response to treatments was subtle and transient. Strong site-specificity was observed in the response of most ecosystem variables, suggesting that practitioners employ adaptive management at the local scale. Because ecosystem components were tightly linked, adaptive management would need to include monitoring of a carefully chosen set of key variables. Mechanical treatments did not serve as surrogates for fire for most variables, suggesting that fire be maintained whenever possible. Restoration to pre-settlement conditions will require repeated treatments over time, with eastern forests requiring more frequent applications.

Additional keywords : dry forest management, forest thinning, frequent fire regimes, mechanical treatment, oak, pine, prescribed fire, seasonally dry forests.


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