Thinning reduces loss of conifers in wildfires

Chelan, Washington (flickr/JBColorado).

A study conducted by U.S. Forest Service and University of Washington scientists has found that fuel treatments—even of only a few acres—can reduce fire severity and protect older trees desirable for their timber, wildlife, and carbon-storage value. The finding is part of a three-year study of the 175,000-acre Tripod Fire and is published in the August issue of Canadian Journal of Forest Research.

“This study provides the most definitive evidence yet of the effectiveness of fuel treatments in dry forests of the Pacific Northwest,” said Susan Prichard, a UW research scientist and senior author of the study. “If dense forests are thinned and the surface fuels are removed, then ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir trees have a better chance of surviving an intense wildfire.”

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