Category: Theses and Dissertations
Title: Assessing Effects of Large Wildland Fires in Mexican Spotted Owl Protected Activity Centers
Author: *Normandin, Don
Subject: Mexican spotted owl, Wildfire
Abstract: Wildland fire sizes in the American Southwest have increased over the last few decades creating challenges for managing public lands, including habitat for Mexican spotted owls (Strix occidentalis lucida, MSO). The US Forest Service (USFS) Region 3 defines MSO habitat as pine-oak (Pinus spp.-Quercus spp.), mixed-conifer or forest stands dominated by Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) and white fir (Abies concolor (Gordon & Glend.) Lindl. Ex Hilderbr.). The US Fish and Wildlife Service (1995) listed the MSO as “threatened” in 1993 prompting the USFS to identify Protected Activity Centers (PACs) and reduce high-severity wildland fires therein, which can endanger MSO habitat. Understanding the trends of high-severity wildland fires in MSO habitat since the species was listed provides another tool for managers to protect limited habitat for this species. I overlaid spatial data layers of fire severity and vegetation with 387 PAC boundaries to assess patches of high-severity burned area of fires >405 ha from 1992 through 2011 on MSO PACs on the Four Forest Restoration Initiative landscape. I used Fragstats to acquire average-weighted mean area of high-severity burn patches within each fire boundary and for individual PACs. I analyzed forest types burned by high-severity fire and assessed impacts to MSO habitat. High-severity burn patches in MSO PACs occur at higher rates in fires >4,047 ha than fires <4,047 ha. Wildland fires burned some portion of 180 PACs, 86% of which were affected by high-severity fire. Given trends in size of wildland fires and high-severity burn patches I recommend extensive treatments outside PACs, maximum allowable treatments inside PACs, and aggressive fire suppression efforts of fires ≥4,047 ha.
Source: Masters Thesis
Publisher: NAU School of Forestry, http://www.for.nau.edu