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Tradeoffs between US national forest harvest targets and fuel management to reduce wildfire transmission to the wildland urban interface
- Ager, Alan A., Houtman, Rachel M., Day, Michelle A., Ringo, Chris, Palaiologou, Palaiologos
- Forest ecology and management 2019 v.434 pp. 99-109
- ecological value, ecosystem services, forest management, forests, fuels, fuels (fire ecology), humans, land management, national forests, planning, public lands, risk, wildfires, wildland-urban interface, Western United States
- US public land management agencies are faced with multiple, often conflicting objectives to meet management targets and produce a wide range of ecosystem services expected from public lands. One example is managing the growing wildfire risk to human and ecological values while meeting programmatic harvest targets for economic outputs mandated in agency budgets. Studies examining strategic management tradeoffs on federal lands and program efficiencies are rare. In this study we used the 79 western US national forests to examine tradeoffs between forest management scenarios targeting wildfire risk to the wildland urban interface (WUI) and those meeting agency convertible volume production targets. We quantified production frontiers to measure how the efficiency of meeting harvest volume targets is affected by prioritizing treatments to areas that transmit fire to the WUI. The results showed strong tradeoffs and scale effects on production frontiers, and more importantly substantial variation among planning areas and national forests. Prioritizing treatments to reduce fire transmission to the WUI resulted in an average harvest volume reduction of about 248 m3 per ha treated. The analysis also identified opportunities where both management objectives can be achieved. This work represents the first large-scale tradeoff analysis for key management goals in forest and fuel management programs on national forests.