Effectiveness of Fire and Fire Surrogate Treatments For Controlling Wildfire Behavior in Piedmont Forests: A Simulation StudyThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The need for fuel reduction has increased in United States forests due to decades of fire exclusion. Excessive fuel buildup has led to uncharacteristically severe fires in areas with historically short-interval, low-to-moderate-intensity fire regimes. The National Fire and Fire Surrogate (NFFS) Study compared the impacts of three fuel-reduction treatments on numerous response variables. At an NFFS Study research site in the South Carolina Piedmont, fuels were altered by burning, thinning, and the combination of burning and thinning. Each treatment produced a unique fuel complex and altered microclimate for surface fuels by opening stands to wind and light. Fuel reduction treatments were designed to minimize damage if a wildfire occurred; however, fire behavior in each treatment area is difficult to predict. BehavePlus was used to predict wildfire behavior for treatment comparisons. Fuel and weather data collected from each treatment area were used as inputs to simulate wildfire behavior for extreme weather conditions during the Piedmont fire season. Burn-only treatments had the shortest flame heights, slowest rate of spread, and lowest scorch height. Thin-only and thin-and-burn treatments increased fire intensity for the first growing season after treatment. However, these results are expected to be short term as logging slash decomposes.