Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Fuel Treatment Longevity in the Blue Mountains of Oregon Public Deposited

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https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/v692t993g

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  • Wildland fires are an increasingly extensive, expensive, and frequent occurrence in dry forests of the western United States. Fuel reduction treatments are designed to reduce extreme fire behavior, promote resilient forest structure, and facilitate fire control efforts. Although there is widespread recognition that repeated treatments are needed to maintain desired stand structure and fuel loading, few empirical studies have evaluated the length of time that treatments meet objectives. Fuel treatments tend to open the forest canopy, which increases light and stimulates understory vegetation growth. The length of time fire hazard is decreased within treated stands therefore varies with different forest types and treatment approaches. Dry ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests are commonly targeted for fuel reduction in the Pacific Northwest. This study re-measured the Blue Mountains Fire and Fire Surrogate (FFS) study site in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon. In 1998, sixteen units were delineated and assigned to four treatment groups: mechanical thin, prescribed burn, both thin and burn, and no treatment control. My primary research question was: How do fuel loading, tree regeneration, and understory vegetation vary among fuel treatments, measured repeatedly over a 15-17 year period post-treatment, in the Blue Mountains of Oregon? I examined treatment longevity by comparing pre- and post-treatment fuel loading, tree regeneration, and understory vegetation. The principal findings are: 1) total woody fuel loading15-17 years post-treatment was similar to pre-treatment values; 2) all active treatments result in similar cover by graminoids and shrubs 15-17 years post- treatment; 3) thinning increased tree regeneration over time, and 4) none of the treatments noticeably increased the cover of two invasive grasses of concern. The intensity of fuel reduction treatments may play a role in the longevity of fire hazard reduction. Low-intensity prescribed fire and thinning from below resulted in few long-term modifications to woody fuel loading and understory vegetation. Quantifying persistent changes in forest conditions can aid in the planning and analysis of future fuels treatments, along with scheduling maintenance of existing treated areas.
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