Monday, June 6, 2016

New Study Says Rx Fire May Help Forests Survive Drought

Drought related tree mortality in Sequoia National Park.  Photo: Nate Stephenson
A new study from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service shows that thinning forests with prescribed fire can reduce the effects of drought. Climate change is expected to amplify drought conditions in California so using science to better understand the impacts of drought is of great importance to resource managers such as the National Park Service.
"There is a lot of research showing that climate change is already increasing drought frequency and severity," says Phillip van Mantgem, USGS Forest Ecologist and lead author of the study.  "Our study indicated that when some trees were removed using prescribed fire, the remaining trees were more likely to survive during the drought.  The use of prescribed fire prior to drought may help forests by allowing the remaining trees to have more water during times of stress."  

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