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Research Brief for Forest Managers

By Matthew Hurteau and Malcolm North


Fire suppression has caused an increase risk of high-severity wildfire in many dry forest types of the Western U.S. Treatments aimed at reducing this risk often employ thinning and/or prescribed burning to reduce both tree density and surface fuel loads. There are several carbon (C) costs to these treatments including increased C emissions from prescribed fire, thinning residue and milling waste, the treatment’s consumption of fossil fuels and a reduction in C stocks. However, effective treatments lower the risk of large C loss from high-severity fire and can increase available resources for leave trees, accelerating growth and C sequestration. What are the relative C tradeoffs between different types of fuels treatments? In an on-going study at the Teakettle Experimental Forest we quantified the carbon consequences of different levels of thinning and burning treatments immediately and 7-years post-treatment. Carbon stocks were reduced and emission

Year: 2013
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