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Slash Compression Treatment Reduced Tree Mortality from Prescribed Fire in Southwestern Ponderosa Pine

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Intensive thinning prescriptions intended to restore historic forest structure have produced heavy broadcast slash fuel loads in northwestern Arizona, sometimes leading to high tree mortality following prescribed burning. Mechanical slash compression with a D-6 bulldozer to reduce the severity of fire effects on residual trees was evaluated. Ten of 42 measured trees (24%) died within 2 years after burning of broadcast slash, and crown scorch of trees without slash compression treatment averaged 26%. In contrast, no trees died after burning of compressed slash and crown scorch averaged <3%, even though the total fuel loading was indistinguishable from the broadcast slash treatment. The practice of raking fuels away from the boles of old-growth trees also contributed to reduced scorch as compared to younger, unraked trees. Slash compression is a viable method of reducing mortality, offering ecological and economical tradeoffs. Benefits include the ability to reduce large quantities of slash, safeguarding old-growth tree survival while rapidly achieving open forest structure. Costs include paying for equipment operation as well as the possibility of damage to soils or plants. West. J. Appl. For. 19(3):149–153.

Keywords: Arizona; Ponderosa pine; burning; ecological restoration; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; fuel treatment; natural resource management; natural resources

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Ecological Restoration Institute and School of Forestry P.O. Box 15018 Flagstaff AZ 86011 Phone: (928) 523-1463;, Fax: (928) 523-0296, Email: 2: Coconino National Forest Mogollon Rim Ranger District HC 31 Box 300 Happy Jack AZ 86024 3: School of Forest Resources Pennsylvania State University 111 Ferguson Building University Park PA 16802

Publication date: 2004-07-01

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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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