While doing scenic photography in SW Utah, I ran across this finished fuels reduction project. It looks like they either used a helicopter, or removed fuels over the snow. The first picture shows what the original condition was like, on the left side of the picture. There are vast areas of snag forests, but on other aspects (south, west and east), the aspen seem to be surviving within “the dead zone”. The second picture shows a close-up of the finished project, with very little erosion, scattered logs on the ground, and a better chance for the spruce survivors to thrive.
In taking a closer look at the treated stand, there is a lot more unmerchantable material on the ground than you think. I know as much about this project as any of you, so I’ll try a critique “on the fly”.
In the wider shot, you can see the landing close to the center of the picture. The size of the landing idicates that this wasn’t a helicopter unit, as those landings are always bigger. Looking at the zoomed-in shot, no skid trails are visible, so I’m guessing that the work was done over the snow. There is absolutely no hint of erosion in the entire unit. It doesn’t appear that green trees were thinned, and there seems to not be enough larger snags still standing, compared to the untreated stand. There are no structures close by, and the project seems to be more of a visual improvement with a lessening of fuels. It is hard to say just how many of those snags were merchantable.
All of the forests in the area are full of snags. With these stands being so dry, the fear seems to be based on losing the entire forest. Notice the ample ladder fuels on the green spruces. Overall, the stand looks like it will recover faster than simply “letting nature take its course”. Many of the other stands have a significant aspen component, with some of those aspens dead and dying from drought and conifer overcrowding.
I’d welcome additional commentary, including artistic critique of the aspen shot (taken at a Forest Service fire station, closed for the season). As I was driving back from Bryce Canyon, I told myself that I wouldn’t stop to shoot more aspens (I had already stopped during the morning drive to capture some shots.) Those golden aspens were simply to beautiful to pass on by.
(Note from SF- since I was technically incapable of reducing the size of these photos, you can click on them and they will show finer scale information). >