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Wildfire Occurrence in Aspen in the Interior Western United States

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The western United States contains more than 7 million acres of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides). On the majority of this acreage, aspen sprouted as even-aged stands after fires in the last 150 years. For several reasons, however, fire evidently is no longer playing its historic role of killing and regenerating western aspen stands. A survey was made of wildfire occurrence from 1970 through 1982 in aspen stands on National Forest lands in three Forest Service Regions. The survey data, expanded to include all aspen acreage, revealed that an average of 600 acres are annually consumed by fire. At this rate, it would require about 12,000 years to burn the entire aspen type in the West. During this time span, without management intervention, seral aspen will probably be replaced by conifers, and stable aspen stands may become all-aged and perhaps less productive. Use of prescribed fire is recommended. West. J. Appl. For. 2(3):73-76, July 1987.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Research Forester stationed at the Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT 59807

Publication date: 1987-07-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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