Pre- and Post-Wildfire Forest Management for Ecological Restoration and Fire Resiliency

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1 Pre- and Post-Wildfire Forest Management for Ecological Restoration and Fire Resiliency Richard B. Standiford UC Berkeley, Center for Forestry Review of Day One: Background Setting and Pre-fire Management February 9-11, 2010, Sacramento, CA

2 Objectives of the Conference Bring together researchers & practitioners implementing pre-fire treatments; present state of knowledge on effectiveness Review actions taken immediately after wildfire to prevent environmental impacts; present state of knowledge on effectiveness. Through case studies, obtain comprehensive overview of steps to capture value and reforest after fire. What are environmental and ecological effects of salvage logging? What practices used to enhance recovery? When is management after fire desirable? Assemble available information on long-term effects of management practices after wildfire. What forest conditions result when active reforestation efforts are undertaken; when no intervention occurs; consequences for wildlife, watershed conditions and vegetation? Through expert panels, synthesize materials presented and provide recommendations for best management, improvements in practices and research.

3 Opening Remarks Move beyond conflicts to work together Focus on science robust dialog Discussion on management improvements and research needed USDA emphasis on restoration of National Forests Forests that are resistant to change

4 323 Registrants Breakdown of Who is Here

5 Introduction and Background Fire Regimes, Fuel Types (Carl Skinner) Important role in Sierra ecosystem Definition of fire regimes Frequency, rotation, spatial extent, magnitude, seasonality Classes of fire regimes Priorities for stand scale assessments Variability in fire intensity, size Hazard versus risk Effects on landscape patterns

6 Introduction and Background (cont.) Forest Dynamics (Rob York) Overview of forest dynamics silvicultural treatments and wildfire process model Influenced by: intensity, frequency, impact on forest structure Acknowledgement of role of uncertainty, variability Examples of forest structure change Snags, regeneration dynamics Stressed multiple outcomes possible, not unidirectional

7 Introduction and Background (cont.) Ownership Goals and Objectives (Gary Nakamura) Review by category of ownership Variability in forest management and wildfire management goals implications for wildfire treatments (why, where, when, costs) Review of laws, regulations, policies that affect different ownerships draft State Strategic Fire Plan presented Mixed ownership and management practices at wildland-urban interface

8 Description of Pre-Fire Options Description of Pre-Fire Treatment Options (Scott Stephens) Review of changes in structure from fire exclusion Review of fuel treatments in Fire and Fire Surrogates study comparison of mechanical, prescribed fire, both, against control Mechanical plus RxB gave largest trees, fewest stems, greatest species richness Ecological impacts Exotics, T&E species, small mammals, bark foraging birds,, soils Few negative impacts from pre-fire treatments

9 Description of Pre-Fire Options (cont.) Scale Effects on Treatment (Mark Finney) Modern fire regimes Driven by extreme conditions Distribution by wildfire size large fire events Review of fuel treatments to mitigate wildfire severity importance of prescribed burning Discussed scale of treatment area, duration of treatment, and aggregated landscape effects Local effects don t necessarily translate into landscape effects Use of models to evaluate landscape-scale treatments random vs. strategic Actuarial risk

10 Description of Pre-Fire Options (cont.) Treatment Effects on Fire Behavior (Malcolm North) Review of fuel loads, tree mortality and carbon emissions in retrospective look at wildfires in treated and untreated areas Treatments reduced tree mortality, scorch height, carbon emissions Most effective treatments reduced surface fuels and thinning slash Effectiveness of prescribed burning Mechanical only much less effective Discussion of carbon balance with treatment Importance of long-term evaluation

11 Ecological and Environmental Impacts of Pre-Fire Treatments Wildlife Habitat (Don Yasuda) Its all about tradeoffs Review of short- and long-term consequences (+ and -) of both management and inaction Rate of landscape change is faster today than in presettlement era What is the baseline? Today s controls are already highly altered Appropriate role of science? Dictate or inform

12 Ecological and Environmental Impacts of Pre-Fire Treatments (cont.) Soils (Matt Busse) Complexity of soil variability, treatment responses vary Reviewed: physical properties, nutrient storage with thinning, mastication, burning Soil effects Shades of gray Compaction, whole tree harvesting, masticated fuels, prescribed fire/pile burning Cumulative effects consider past, present, predicted future Soil resilience

13 Ecological and Environmental Impacts of Pre-Fire Treatments (cont.) Watershed Function (Lee MacDonald) Review of thinning and firebreaks on runoff (annual yield, peak flow, low flow), infiltration, erosion and sediment delivery Opportunities to minimize impacts discussed Review of firebreak width, density, location, design, construction on watershed effects Skid trails, landings, roads of greatest concern Focus on the roads!

14 General Summary Fire an important ecological component of Sierra forests Treatment alternatives vary by ownership Treatments mimic fire disturbance Review of prescribed fire, thinning, mastication, fuelbreaks Importance of prescribed fire Mechanical alone not enough Excellent models developed can evaluate treatment placement at multiple scales

15 General Summary (cont.) Restoration goal Resilient forests Mechanisms to deal with uncertainty and risk Utilize actuarial risk as part of land management Forest carbon accounting needs to include fire hazards and wildfire risk Few examples of mixed ownership protocols and strategies Need for more effective documentation of fuels treatment

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