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Using Fire to Increase the Scale, Benefits, and Future Maintenance of Fuels Treatments

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Abstract:

The USDA Forest Service is implementing a new planning rule and starting to revise forest plans for many of the 155 National Forests. In forests that historically had frequent fire regimes, the scale of current fuels reduction treatments has often been too limited to affect fire severity and the Forest Service has predominantly focused on suppression. In addition to continued treatment of the wildland urban interface, increasing the scale of low- and moderate-severity fire would have substantial ecological and economics benefits if implemented soon. We suggest National Forests identify large contiguous areas to concentrate their fuels reduction efforts, and then turn treated firesheds over to prescribed and managed wildfire for future maintenance. A new round of forest planning provides an opportunity to identify and overcome some of the current cultural, regulatory, and institutional barriers to increased fire use that we discuss.

Keywords: Forest Service planning rule; Sierra Nevada; fire policy; fire suppression; forest restoration; managed wildfire

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5849/jof.12-021

Publication date: October 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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