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Restoration Treatment Effects on Stand Structure, Tree Growth, and Fire Hazard in a Ponderosa Pine/Douglas-Fir Forest in Montana

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Crown fires that burned thousands of ha of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws.) forests in recent years attest to the hazardous conditions extant on the western landscape. Managers have responded with broad-scale implementation of fuel reduction treatments; however. because threats to pine forests extend beyond fire, so too must the approaches to address them. This western Montana study evaluated four treatments in a randomized complete block experiment for their effects on stand structural characteristics, growth increment, and crown fire potential. Evaluation of control, burn-only, thin-only, and thin-burn treatments showed that the combined thin-burn treatment had the greatest number of desired effects, the burn-only had the fewest, and the thin-only was intermediate. The thin-burn significantly reduced stand density, canopy cover, torching hazard, and crowning hazard and increased average diameter, height-to live-crown, and basal area increment; the thin-only reduced stand density, canopy cover, and crowning hazard and increased average diameter and basal area increment; and the burn-only reduced torching hazard and increased height-to-live crown. These structural and growth effects are related to or influence numerous stand/ecosystem properties at our site, including diameter distributions, species composition, large-tree development potential, overall tree vigor, potential for shade-intolerant tree regeneration, and resiliency to fire. Results demonstrate that well-designed restoration treatments can promote key short-term stand and ecosystem responses while significantly reducing crown fire potential.

Keywords: basal area increment; crown fire; density; fuel reduction; mechanical; thinning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-02-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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