Grant Boosts Forest Managers’ Efforts

Arcata — Humboldt State University recently received a $308,598 grant from the national Joint Fire Science Program to provide forestland managers with comprehensive, up-to-date techniques for reducing wildland fuels in the western United States.

“The strategy will include many forest ecology aspects—all incorporated so that the fuels treatment will effectively reduce fire hazard. At the same time, it should not interfere with other ecological values, like bio-diversity and long-term forest health,” said Professor Han-Sup Han with the HSU Department of Forestry and Wildland Resources.

Aimed at ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests, found throughout the interior West, the Sierra Nevada, Cascade Range, Klamath Mountains and the Pacific Coast, the interdisciplinary project will engage researchers and land managers in face-to-face meetings and four regional workshops. The project’s goal is to evaluate existing techniques, vet them for efficacy and explore ways to better deliver the information to land managers faced in these fire-prone landscapes.

“The problem has been a lack of information or hasn’t been effectively delivered to the practitioners. So we’re trying to come up with more complete, more comprehensive and more ecologically sound practices, while we’re effectively minimizing fire hazard,” said Han.

“Fuels treatments can be done a lot of different ways. We can use prescribed burning—where we introduce fire in a more controlled environment. We can use mechanical fuels treatments, like thinning. We can also consider grazing and silvicultural practices to manage regeneration of the fuels.”

The end result of the project will be a comprehensive handbook for fuels treatment. Web-based access to project objectives, methods, timeline, links and summaries of the results is also planned.

The project, undertaken in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station in Moscow, Idaho, and the University of Montana, comes on the heels of a devastating fire season in 2008 that cost the U.S. Forest Service $900 million with California agencies contributing more than $1 billion to battle the fires. More than 1.4 million acres of forestland burned between Los Angeles and Humboldt counties.

The Joint Fire Science Program, created by Congress in 1998, is an interagency research, development, and applications partnership between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For more information, visit the Joint Fire Science Program homepage.