Thinning with prescribed fire and timber harvesting mechanization for fuels reduction and forest restoration Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/8k71nm02v

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  • In the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, prescribed fire and mechanical harvesting economics were investigated for fuels reduction and forest restoration. Using a cut-to-length harvesting system, three single-grip harvesters and three forwarders produced significantly different production rates. For the harvesters, significant variables that affected production rates were found to be: harvested material removed (live tree, standing dead tree, or downed wood), tree species, tree diameter, and distance traveled between processing. For the forwarder, significant variables that affected production rates were forwarding distance and the number of stops required to accumulate its rated payload. From the thinning, net revenues per acre ranged from $143 to $718 and averaged $315. Prescribed fire costs ranged from $24 to $87 per acre and averaged $51. Prescribed fire intensity was found to be significantly higher in the mechanically thinned stands with tons of downed woody material being a significant predictor of fire intensity. Mean fire intensity was found to be 94.7° and 157.6° Celsius for the burn and thin and burn treatments, respectively. The addition of activity fuel from the mechanical thinning was the primary factor that increased fire intensity. From the production data, net revenue was determined for stump-to-mill operations and predictive equations were used to develop a cost model that investigated stand conditions of significance. This information provided a framework for conducting sensitivity analysis on the effects of these significant variables to production and cost at differing levels. Equations were derived from the simulations and used to determine alternative scenarios for stand conditions in and around the study area. The economics of fuels reduction and forest restoration needs to proceed with an increased level of cost analysis. While many areas in need of fuels reduction have produced positive net revenues, others have produced a loss. Land mangers need to understand how equipment selection, material removed, stand conditions, market prices, and market locations affect harvesting costs and net revenue. Information provided in this paper can be used by land managers to aid in assessing the economic feasibility of a given operation and determine which treatment combinations are optimal.
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