U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Fire Science Brief, Issue 56, July 2009


US government work.


Ponderosa pine plantation forests cover nearly 400,000 acres of California’s National Forests. Fire hazard is extreme both within and adjacent to many of these areas which has led to extensive fuel reduction plans for plantations and other forests on federal public lands. Although fuels treatments have been implemented on a limited basis in California’s plantations, the effectiveness of varying methods has only recently received scientifi c attention. This project analyzed the effectiveness of individual and combination treatments to provide science-based guidance for fi re hazard reduction in these areas. Prescribed understory fi re, both alone and combined with pre-burn mastication, was most effective for reducing surface fuels and potential fi re behavior. Likelihood of active crown fi re was reduced in masticated stands because bulk density was decreased. Predicted torching, tree mortality and fl ame length were higher in masticated units than in prescribed burn units and controls.