The role of active management in preventing catastrophic wildfires

Active forest management is an effective approach to achieving fire-resilient forests, which involves practices such as clearing overgrown forests, removing hazardous fuels, and restoring natural fire regimes. These strategies aim to decrease the amount of fuel available for wildfires, thus slowing their spread and reducing their intensity, making them easier to control.

Krista Modlin, NWTF Pacific Coast District Biologist, notes that one of the best tools for measuring forest resilience is stand density. “Low-density stands reduce competition from trees and create forests that can adapt to wildfire, drought, bark beetles and climate change.”

The Klamath National Forest has been identified by the USDA Forest Service as having more than 500 trees per acre, interlocking crowns, and a decline in growth. Such conditions pose a serious risk as trees become vulnerable to stress, insect-related mortality and disease, increasing fuel for wildfires once they fall to the ground. To reduce the risk of future catastrophic wildfires, logging helps thin the forest and removes fuel for burning.

Overcrowded and dense forests are particularly vulnerable to wildfires because they contain an excessive amount of fuel that can easily spread a fire. As a result, vast acres of habitat are being destroyed at a rate that land management agencies struggle to maintain, with young forests taking decades to mature again.

Additionally, the Forest Service’s 2022 aerial detection survey revealed that the Klamath National Forest had an estimated mortality of 140,000 acres, with approximately 1,800,000 dead trees. These alarming numbers indicate that various parts of the National Forest are at high risk of total destruction from wildfires. “The large number of obstacles per acre that remain after a fire represents high fire danger in the future,” Modlin said, “Dead and dying material left in the landscape must be removed to prevent another catastrophic fire in the same area. . ”

Therefore, proactive management practices are essential to increase resilient forest ecosystems that can withstand catastrophic wildfires. Over time, such practices will allow the forest to return to a more natural and healthy state, reducing the risk of future catastrophic events.

He timber transport pilot is allowing the NWTF, the Forest Service and the California Deer Association to reduce stand density on the Klamath National Forest by harvesting 2,746 acres of overgrown stumpage. In addition, fuel reduction and wildlife habitat enhancement will also be achieved through 1,605 acres of juniper mowing and felling, 592 acres of juniper reduction, 264 acres of plantation thinning, and 866 acres of chewing.

Through the master stewardship agreement and active forest management, a significant decrease in the accumulation of hazardous fuels on the Klamath National Forest is being achieved by harvesting trees salvaged from fires. Removing these fuels improves the forest’s ability to withstand these damaging wildfires, reduces stand density, and promotes the development of healthier forest ecosystems. Improving the resilience of forests against wildfire disasters will help California communities surrounding the National Forest become more resilient and safer areas to live.

He region 5 management agreement it offers several other benefits to communities, such as improved air and water quality, increased wildlife habitat, and increased opportunities for outdoor recreation. To learn more about these critical conservation priorities, explore the Forest Service Wildfire Crisis Strategy and the NWTF’s Four Shared Values.