Category: Ecological Research
Title: Forest Structure and Fuels Dynamics Following Ponderosa Pine Treatments, White Mountains, Arizona, USA
Author: * Roccaforte, J.P.
Subject: Forest structure, Treatment Types, Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), Fuels
Abstract: Southwestern ponderosa pine forest ecosystems have become uncharacteristically dense as a result of intensive livestock grazing, logging, and fire exclusion, which have contributed to a buildup of fuels and increased vulnerability to high-severity, landscape-scale crown fires and epidemic pathogenic outbreaks. The two largest wildfires in Arizona recorded history – the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski fire and the 2011 Wallow fire (combined area exceeded 1 million acres) – occurred in the White Mountains of east-central Arizona. In addition to the loss of critical wildlife habitat and old/large trees, and the possibility that previously forested areas may experience vegetation type conversion, these “mega-fires” have cost an estimated $465 million to date. This number includes fire suppression, loss of property, and rehabilitation costs. To test alternative approaches for restoring degraded ponderosa pine forests and reducing the potential of high-severity fires, we implemented an experiment in the White Mountains of east-central Arizona. The objectives of this study were to (1) quantify site-specific reference conditions using dendroecological reconstruction methods, (2) analyze effects of elevation on historical and contemporary changes in forest structure and canopy fuels, (3) compare effects of alternative restoration treatments (thin plus burn and burn-only) on stand structure, surface fuels, and canopy fuels, and (4) evaluate effectiveness of treatments for restoring attributes to near historical reference conditions.
Type: Fact Sheet
Source: Ecological Restoration Institute Fact Sheet
Publisher: Ecological Restoration Institute