R-6 Fuel Treatment Effectiveness Monitoring Dashboard: 2021 Fires and Updates

You can click on this screenshot to make it larger.

Here’s the link… seems to me that much learning could occur and be shared via this Dashboard.   Rumor has it that Region 5 (California) wants to be included. Seems like BLM would be a natural as well. My understanding is that FTEM itself is interagency, although at this point the Dashboard is only used by Region 6 of the Forest Service.

2021 was a year of both some West-side fires and the Bootleg as well as some Washington fires.
There is a new feature added called “Complexity Level” that takes into account the number of treatments on the site (say thinning, prescribed fire versus one entry).

A few thoughts.. I looked at the Little Bend Creek fire on the Umpqua and noticed many treatments occurred on relatively few acres (7 to 35 ish). It’s hard to imagine those sizes having much impact on “contributing to the management of the fire” but I suppose it’s possible. It’s interesting to look at the treatments also (e.g., would you expect a precommercial thin to have an impact on wildfire? what does that stand look like?) And of course, it’s always interesting to look at places you’re familiar with and the photos.  Please share your own observations in the comments.

As always, feedback to the designers is appreciated. Scroll down on “how to interact with this dashboard” and there’s a link where you can enter questions, feedback and suggestions, and technical issues.

10 thoughts on “R-6 Fuel Treatment Effectiveness Monitoring Dashboard: 2021 Fires and Updates”

  1. A PCT is likely to modify fire behavior, but modifying fire behavior is not enough. If the treated ladder fuels are simply lopped and scattered, there is no effect on fire intensity. The fuels have been rearranged, but they are still there. As a result, there would be little effect on residual tree mortality and it would still make it difficult for fire managers to go direct. I have seen PCT done in plantations with lop and scatter that resulted in wildfire dropping to the ground, but all the trees were cooked due to the long residence time. Fire behavior was modified, but it did not result in a treatment condition managers were able to use for a control line.

    Dealing with surface fuels is extremely important, which is why pile and burn, whole tree yarding, and underburning are so important.

    Thought this paper was interesting and speaks to the effectiveness of underburning vs. mechanical:

    • Hi A, I read this in the paper you cited..

      “However, Dixie Fire severity also varied strikingly by severity of the most recent fire (figure 2).
      Areas burned at low severity in a past fire tended to burn at lower severity again in the Dixie Fire, particularly if the fire occurred within the past 10 years.
      Conversely, areas burned at high severity in the past burned at higher severity in the Dixie Fire and higher than areas with no prior fire or fuel treatments.
      Although fire severity was moderated in areas that had burned ⩽10 years earlier, prior fire everity influenced Dixie Fire severity more strongly than time since fire (figure 2).”
      Could you talk a little about what that looks like if you know?
      Where I live, some high severity areas are still all grass nigh on 20 years later. It’s hard to imagine that they would burn again at high severity. Maybe in the Dixie Fire area, there were lots of big trees that jackstrawed and fell to the ground and left enough fuel for another high severity fire?

      Hopefully you or other Californians can help me out.

      • Without some sort of BAER report or comprehensive inventory of data, we can’t make too many assumptions about this huge fire, which burned across so many different types of forests. I’ve seen some aerial pictures on Facebook, showing some devastation, even in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Of course, the thick fir/lodgepole forests were ripe for high intensity fire, as they are ‘designed’ to do. The ‘eastside pine’ areas probably didn’t fare well, either.

        One thing I am very curious about is how well the Collins Pine holdings did (near Lake Almanor). They have been managing their lands differently (uneven-aged management), leaving some mature trees, for the next harvest.

      • I totally get you about ponderosa-bunchgrass systems. Ponderosa regen in some systems is more episodic (if there’s a seed source) and there isn’t a fire-loving shrub component. Sierra mixed conifer is a very wet dry forest type, with many areas getting 25-60 inches of precip a year. Following high severity fire in a fire suppressed stand on the westside Sierra, the chaparral-associated shrubs come back from basal burls and a fire-stimulated seedbank and there can also be a flush of tree regeneration, plus there’s all the fire-generated snags that will soon be downed wood. Within 10 years, if left untreated, it’s a 10 foot tall wall waxy-leafed shrubs and saplings and with a few feet of downed wood at the bottom. Ironically, if the stand burned in an active crown fire, there are less dead fuels than if it burned in a passive crown fire. The jackstrawed boles do not have high flames lengths or high rates of spread, but they do make a lot of embers that can cause long-distance spotting and it’s really difficult stuff for fire managers to work in.

        However, it should be mentioned, western sierra mixed conifer that is not fire suppressed and burns at high severity doesn’t necessarily follow the same path as described above.

        • Thanks! Sometimes more details are all that’s needed to understand mechanisms. I worked for a while on the Eldorado, so have been on a brushy field trip or two.

  2. The assessments done for this dashboard are qualitative and it is a well-organized effort in Region 6 to get these assessments done, and that is commendable because it takes a fair amount of effort (especially after a big fire season) to get these done. The process of doing the assessments also helps folks evaluate the effectiveness of the work we are doing and helps provide information to improve practices in the future.

    • It would be interesting if after each fire, and these assessments, folks would share their evaluations with the public either via reports or field trips. I know it’s more work, but sometimes I think continual learning is invisible outside the community


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