U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Joint Fire Science Program Synthesis Reports

Date of this Version


Document Type



United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-292, October 2012


US government work.


This guide describes the benefits, opportunities, and trade-offs concerning fuel treatments in the dry mixed conifer forests of northern California and the Klamath Mountains, Pacific Northwest Interior, northern and central Rocky Mountains, and Utah. Multiple interacting disturbances and diverse physical settings have created a forest mosaic with historically low- to mixed-severity fire regimes. Analysis of forest inventory data found nearly 80 percent of these forests rate hazardous by at least one measure and 20 to 30 percent rate hazardous by multiple measures. Modeled mechanical treatments designed to mimic what is typically implemented, such as thinning, are effective on less than 20 percent of the forest in single entry, but can be self-funding more often than not. We provide: (1) exhaustive summaries and links to supporting guides and literature on the mechanics of fuel treatments, including mechanical manipulation, prescribed fire, targeted grazing and chemical use; (2) a decision tree to help managers select the best mechanical method for any situation in these regions; (3) discussion on how to apply prescribed fire to achieve diverse and specific objectives; (4) key principles for developing an effective monitoring plan; (5) economic analysis of mechanical fuel treatments in each region; and (6) discussion on fuel treatment longevity. In the electronic version of the document, we have provided links to electronic copies of cited literature available in TreeSearch online document library (http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/)