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Landscape study may offer solutions for fire managers
Date:7/24/2008

PORTLAND, Ore. July 23, 2008. A fire is currently burning through a study area where projections were made about fire behavior about 2 years ago. Managers used data and analysis from the Gotchen Late-Successional Reserve (LSR) study in the planning, analysis, and implementation of treatments near where the Cold Springs fire is now active.

The Gotchen LSR, lies on the east slope of the Cascade Range in Washington, and covers about 15,000 acres of the Mount Adams Ranger District on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The Gotchen LSR was designated by the Northwest Forest Plan to protect habitat for species associated with older forests. Susan Stevens Hummel, a research forester at the Pacific Northwest Research Station, led a case study of the reserve in 2006. Her findings suggested that the potential for compatibility between fire and habitat objectives could be increased through a technique called landscape silviculture.

"Our intent in taking this approach was to expand silviculture decisionmaking beyond a unit-by-unit approach and instead to consider adjacent units and landscape objectives explicitly," explains Hummel. She and her colleagues used a combination of aerial photo interpretation and field sampling. Hummel focused on changes in forest structure, or the arrangement and variety of living and dead vegetation, a common denominator between fire behavior and owl habitat.

However, treatments that reduced fire threat or retained old-forest structure often conflicted in a given stand. To reveal the trade-offs between them, Hummel teamed up with David Calkin, a research economist with the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula, Montana. Forest structure was used as the shared currency between the conflicting landscape objectives. Through the use of simulated treatments to develop the production possibility curves, Hummel and Calkin identified multiple sets of solutions that could reduce the threat of stand-replacing fires
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Contact: Yasmeen Sands
ysands@fs.fed.us
206-732-7823
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station
Source:Eurekalert

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