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Fuel mass and forest structure following stand-replacement fire and post-fire logging in a mixed-evergreen forest
- Donato, Daniel C., Fontaine, Joseph B., Kauffman, J. Boone, Robinson, W. Douglas, Law, Beverly E.
- International journal of wildland fire 2013 v.22 no.5 pp. 652-666
- felling, fuel loading, fire hazard, dead wood, aboveground biomass, fuels (fire ecology), wildfires, fuels, trees, stand basal area, forests, Oregon
- Following severe wildfires, managing fire hazard by removing dead trees (post-fire logging) is an important issue globally. Data informing these management actions are relatively scarce, particularly how fuel loads differ by post-fire logging intensity within different environmental settings. In mixed-evergreen forests of Oregon, USA, we quantified fuel profiles 3–4 years after stand-replacement fire – assessing three post-fire logging intensities (0, 25–75, or >75% basal area cut) across two climatic settings (mesic coastal, drier interior). Stand-replacement fire consumed ~17% of aboveground biomass. Post-fire logging significantly reduced standing dead biomass, with high-intensity treatment leaving a greater proportion (28%) of felled biomass on site compared with moderate-intensity treatment (14%) because of less selective tree felling. A significant relationship between logging intensity and resulting surface fuels (per-hectare increase of 0.4–1.2Mg per square metre of basal area cut) indicated a broadly applicable predictive tool for management. Down wood cover increased by 3–5 times and became more spatially homogeneous after logging. Post-fire logging altered the fuel profile of early-seral stands (standing material removed or transferred, short-term increase in surface fuels, likely reduction in future large fuel accumulation), with moderate-intensity and unlogged treatments yielding surface fuel loads consistent with commonly prescribed levels, and high-intensity treatment resulting in greater potential need for follow-up fuel treatments.