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Simulating cut to length forest treatment effects on fire behavior over steep slopes

Date

2023

Authors

Pittman, Kyle Tait, author
Jathar, Shantanu, advisor
Hoffman, Chad, advisor
Linn, Rod, committee member
Windom, Bret, committee member
Wei, Yu, committee member

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Abstract

The increase of wildfire size and behavior in many western U.S. forests is due to increased fuel loads resulting from the past century's fire suppression, logging, and grazing policies of the 20th century, along with compounding climactic changes including increased drought and temperatures. Fuel hazard treatments are the key land management tool used to reduce fire intensity and severity however these treatments are often not possible on steep terrain of over 30% slope. Cable tethered cut to length machinery opens new avenues for managers to treat forests in steep slopes, but there is limited data on how effective the treatments will be. I conducted a numerical experiment using the wildfire model, FIRETEC, coupled with the atmospheric dynamics model, HIGRAD, to understand the complex interactions of wind, topography, and fire behaviors of two cut to length forest treatments on slopes of up to 60%. Results show that treatments can effectively reduce some fire behaviors such as heat release and canopy consumption when compared to untreated forests on slopes. However, increased sub canopy wind penetration along the slopes following treatments results in marginal fire severity reduction regarding biomass consumption and variable results on rates of spread. The results of these numerical experiments indicate that CTL treatment can effectively reduce some fire behavior and severity, however the effects were marginal and additional research is needed to better understand treatment's effects.

Description

2023 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.

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