Simulating Fire and Forest Dynamics for a Landscape Fuel Treatment Project in the Sierra Nevada

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We evaluated an actual landscape fuel treatment project that was designed by local US Forest Service managers in the northern Sierra Nevada. We modeled the effects of this project on reducing landscape-level fire behavior at multiple time steps, up to nearly 30 years beyond treatment implementation. In addition, we modeled planned treatments under multiple diameter-limited thinning scenarios to assess potential impacts on fuel treatment effectiveness. The planned fuel treatments reduced modeled conditional burn probabilities substantially across the landscape relative to those for a scenario with no simulated treatments. This reduction relative to that for the no treatment landscape was evident approximately 20 years after simulated treatment implementation. Although diameter-limited thinning scenarios resulted in different residual forest stand structures, we detected no real differences in modeled landscape-level burn probabilities. The modeling adaptations we made with respect to fuel model selection and simulated ingrowth/regeneration over simulated time, as well as incorporation of variable winds in fire simulations, collectively contribute to a robust analysis of the study area.

Keywords: fire exclusion; fuels reduction; minimum travel time; wildfire modeling

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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