Category: Theses and Dissertations
Title: Smoke, Risk, and Intergenerational Equity in Flagstaff, Arizonas Wildland-Urban Interface
Author: *Barnes, E.M.
Subject: Fire effects
Abstract: This study addresses two questions with a long-term outlook. Both questions address the combined issues of fire hazard and risk reduction and forest health restoration by focusing on smoke production within an intergenerational equity context. First, what are the characteristics of smoke and fuel hazard that might be produced from alternative prescribed fire treatments under several management options available for the wildlandurban interface of Flagstaff, Arizona. The second question addressed is, what general costs and benefits will be passed on to future residents under each management option? Different forest management options will result in different patterns of intergenerational transfers. We discuss the intergenerational concepts of justice and equity in the context of ecological restoration, focusing on the interplay of fire risk, ecological health, and smoke impacts on human health. A computer simulation approach was used to model potential smoke emissions and concentrations along with changes in fuel hazards. Prescribed fire reduces forest floor fuels, but will result in smoke and its associated health effects. Emissions of particulate matter were highest during initial burns but decreased with repeated prescribed fire. Future smoke emissions can be reduced by burning on a more frequent interval, which keeps fuels from accumulating, and by thinning, which reduces future fuel input to the forest floor. Thinning also reduces the risk of active crown fire. However, cumulative emissions are higher with more frequent burning. Although areas restored with heavy thinning and frequent burning emitted lower quantities of particulates, results indicated that burning these areas could result in more frequently exceeding air quality standards than either the initial burns. We argue that the no treatment option would transfer the fewest options to the future and therefore is both unjust and unethical to the future as well as the present. Restoration utilizing thinning and burning would benefit both the current and future generations, and transfer the highest amount of natural capital options, but must be balanced against the negative health effects of increased smoke. We suggest that smoke effects may be mitigated by increasing the fire return interval closer to 20 years in heavily thinned stands.
Publisher: NAU School of Forestry, http://www.for.nau.edu