Quantifying the carbon costs and benefits of maintaining fuel treatment effectiveness
Funding Source: CAL FIRE
Research Team: Matthew Hurteau, Malcolm North, Harold Zald, Rob York
Objective: Previous research has demonstrated that fuel treatments, consisting of understory thinning and prescribed burning, can modify forest structure and fuel loads and reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire. However, single-entry fuels treatments have diminishing effectiveness over time and require the restoration of fire to maintain effectiveness. The purpose of this research is to improve our understanding of multiple prescribed fire for managing fire risk and how these fires influence forest carbon dynamics. The research is designed to answer three questions:
1) Are the emissions from a second-entry burn lower than the first-entry, thereby reducing the length of time required for treatment emissions to be resequestered?
2) Does a second-entry burn in the burn-only treatment produce the same post-treatment growth release and mortality patterns as the first-entry burn?
3) Is the growth response following the understory thinning treatment sustained through the current drought?
This research is being conducted at the Teakettle Experimental Forest in the southern Sierra Nevada.
Odland, MC, MJ Goodwin, BV Smithers, MD Hurteau, MP North. 2021. Plant community response to thinning and repeated fire in Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer undestories. Forest Ecology and Management 495: 119361.
Goodwin, MJ, MP North, HSJ Zald, MD Hurteau. 2020. Changing climate reallocates the carbon debt of frequent-fire forests. Global Change Biology, 26:6180-6189.
Goodwin, M.J.*, M.P. North, H.S.J. Zald, M.D. Hurteau. 2018. The 15-year post-treatment response of a mixed-conifer understory plant community to thinning and burning treatments. Forest Ecology and Management 229:617-624.