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Title: Understanding the long-term fire risks in forests affected by sudden oak death

Author: Valachovic, Yana; Lee, Chris; Glebocki, Radoslaw; Scanlon, Hugh; Varner, J. Morgan; Rizzo, David.;

Date: 2010

Source: In: Frankel, Susan J.; Kliejunas, John T.; Palmieri, Katharine M. 2010. Proceedings of the Sudden Oak Death Fourth Science Symposium. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-229. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. pp. 262-270

Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: It is assumed that large numbers of dead and down tanoak in forests infested by Phytophthora ramorum contribute to increased fire hazard risk and fuel loading. We studied the impact of P. ramorum infestation on surface fuel loading, potential fire hazard, and potential fire behavior in Douglas-fir- (Pseudotsuga menziesii) dominated forest stands with a significant tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus) component in Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte Counties in northern coastal California. We also tested the feasibility of using stands in which tanoaks were treated with herbicides as a proxy for stands that have been heavily impacted by P. ramorum over a long time period, especially in areas where stands have not been impacted by the pathogen over the desired timeframe. In each county, plots were established to assess surface fuel loadings in both P. ramorum-infested and uninfested forest stands. Plots were stratified by (1) whether tanoaks were killed by P. ramorum or by herbicide (as a surrogate for areas or time frames that were not present) and (2) length of time the plot has been known to be infested or since herbicide application (in groups of approximately 2, 10, and 20 years). Within each plot, environmental information, disease information, canopy characteristics, and fuel loading as measured by the planar intercept method, including forest floor bulk density measurements, were obtained. Stands treated with herbicides 5 to 8 years ago had significantly more surface fuel than stands treated more recently or those infested with P. ramorum within the past 5 years. Additionally, fuel amounts were very similar between stands treated with herbicide recently and recently infested stands, suggesting that further study may establish the former condition as a study surrogate for the latter. Fuel amounts from this study fit a fuel model from the existing literature fairly well, information that could be of use for fire behavior analysts and fire ecologists.

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Valachovic, Yana; Lee, Chris; Glebocki, Radoslaw;Scanlon, Hugh ; Varner, J. Morgan; Rizzo, David. 2010. Understanding the long-term fire risks in forests affected by Sudden Oak Death. In: Frankel, Susan J.; Kliejunas, John T.; Palmieri, Katharine M. 2010. Proceedings of the Sudden Oak Death Fourth Science Symposium. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-229. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. pp. 262-270

 


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