|Post-fire logging study landscape in Washington. Source: Richy Harrod, USFS|
|Similar post-fire site nearby showing fuel buildup. Source: Richy Harrod, USFS.|
A new study reveals that harvesting fire-killed trees is an effective way to reduce woody fuels for up to four decades following wildfire in dry coniferous forests.
“Large wildfires can leave behind thousands of acres of fire-killed trees that eventually become fuel for future fires. In the past, post-fire logging has been conducted primarily to recover economic value from those fire-killed trees,” said David W. Peterson, a Wenatchee-based research ecologist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station who led the study.
The study shows that post-fire logging also provides a tangible long-term fuel reduction benefit, giving forest managers another tool for managing woody fuels in dry forest landscapes.
“In comparing logged and unlogged stands, we found that logged stands had higher fuels than unlogged stands, on average, during the first five years after fire and logging, but then had lower fuels from seven to forty years after fire, with the greatest differences being found for large-diameter woody fuels,” Peterson said. “This study provides a sound scientific basis for forest managers to consider fuels management goals along with recovery of economic value and wildlife habitat concerns when deciding when and where to propose post-fire logging.” Read the full release here.