Published in Proceedings of 3rd International Fire Ecology and Management Congress, January 1, 2006, pages 1-3. Copyright © 2006 Association for Fire Ecology.
Even though harvesting timber is one method of reducing fuel continuity and subsequent potential fire behavior, the residual slash can greatly increase the surface fuel loading and subsequent risk of wildfire on harvested sites. Fire behavior following silvicultural treatments to a stand can vary greatly, with both depth and loading playing a significant role (Nives 1989). Surface fuels and subsequent potential fire behavior has been shown to increase in the first year after harvest in coast redwood forests (Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) Endl.) (Dicus 2003), which threatens not only natural resources but also structures in an ever-increasing wildland-urban interface.
Alternatively, logging slash may serve to hold post-harvest soil in place, thereby decreasing soil erosion and stream sedimentation, which may be of greater importance than fire risk in some areas. Logging operations, particularly roads, can significantly increase erosion rates in coastal forests (Amaranthus et al., 1985). Slash may reduce the detrimental effects of harvesting impacts by decreasing raindrop impact and subsequent soil movement.
This research examined surface fuel loading, potential fire behavior, and soil erosion following a single-tree selection harvest and subsequent lop and scatter slash treatment in coast redwood stands near Aptos, California. The specific objectives were to (1) quantify fuel loading and potential fire behavior before and for three years after a selective harvest, and (2) determine if residual slash affected surface soil erosion.