Response to Future Wildfires in Forest Plans?

To what extent, if any, do forest plans look at future fires and other disturbances, and how to respond to them? Would it be beneficial to address this at the forest plan level?

6 thoughts on “Response to Future Wildfires in Forest Plans?”

  1. When I was the Environmental Coordinator in R4 in the early 90’s, the Director of Planning and I talked about the fires on the Boise NF and the need to ament the plan to show al loss of acreage available for cutting lots of forest was burned almost every year. I guess the acreage suitable would not actually change but there would be a loss of trees available for the annual cut.

    I don’t know if anything happened but the need was apparent and was talked about.

  2. They were definitely considered on the one forest plan revision that I worked on. Wildfire that was projected to burn within certain conditions was used in the plan objectives to show the accomplishment of fuels work and other fire-related restoration. Some plans may also include conditions under which salvage (due to any cause, not just fire) can occur. Even the initial (late 1980s) Forest Plans considered wildfire in some way (at least for the forests that I worked on). The Northwest Forest Plan acknowledges and factors in that wildfires will occur in Late Successional Reserves, for example, and has Standards & Guidelines relating to salvage in LSR. The BLM plan for western Oregon includes post-fire reforestation requirements.

    • Of course, no one planned for megafires, back then. Could/should megafires be included in future plan revisions? Prevention, suppression, mitigation?

      • Two points.. fires could be included in plan revisions, but there are a couple of problems.
        1. The FS can’t get them done very quickly (see new post)
        2. If say 200 K acres burn of old growth, say, and you’re trying to get veg conditions back to NRV or whatever, you would have to reanalyze the vegetation conditions and do an amendment to provide for plan components. So it would be a bit of an endless cycle.
        If there are urgent fire questions to address ASAP (and I believe there are) (managing recreation to reduce ignitions; where is OK for WFU; where PODs should go), the FS can do plan amendments focused on this. That’s what I talked about in this post

        • I’m not sure I understand #2. A large fire should cause a forest to consider the NFMA requirement to revise the plan when there are significant changes in the condition of the forest. One likely change would be the allowable timber sale quantity, since much of it would have burned up. Another might be the need to provide further protection to wildlife where a large amount of habitat is lost, especially where additional restrictions are needed for the plan to continue meeting the NFMA viability requirement for the species (which might also lower the ASQ). Yet I’ve rarely heard of this being done (there was a court case affirming the latter need in Idaho). Or were you thinking of something else?


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