Published in Proceedings of 3rd International Fire Ecology and Management Congress, January 1, 2006, pages 1-3. Copyright © 2006 The Association for Fire Ecology.
Commercial timber harvesting typically reduces aerial fuel loading and continuity, but can actually heighten fire activity through increased surface fuel loading (Agee 1997). Fuel depth and loading, which typically increase after harvest, play a significant role in fire intensity and rate of spread in redwood forests (Sequoia sempervirens) (D. Don.) Endl.) (Nives 1989), which are significant predictors of redwood mortality (Finney and Martin 1993). However, residual slash fuels may simultaneously reduce erosion, which may be of greater importance in some areas because they intercept rainfall and soil particles dispersed by overland flow (Fernandez et al. 2004).
The relationship of surface fuel loading on potential fire behavior and soil erosion was explored in coast redwood stands that were selectively harvested 11 years prior to this study by either cable- or tractor-skidding methods (Piirto et al. 1997). The objectives of this study were to (1) assess fuel loading and potential fire behavior in harvested stands and (2) determine if surface soil erosion was influenced by surface fuels.