Available at: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/theses/364
Date of Award
MS in Forestry Sciences
Natural Resources Management
Greater numbers of people are moving into wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas, increasing the number of people at risk to large wildfires. To mitigate the hazard, emphasis is often placed on fuel treatments used to reduce fuel loads and subsequent fire behavior. This approach overlooks the additional benefits provided by vegetation, including carbon storage and sequestration along with air pollutant removal. This study aimed to calculate and compare differences in representative values by examining a study site in the Klamath Mountains of Northern California. Fire behavior simulations were done under various weather scenarios to illustrate both the impact of weather on fire intensity as well as the limitations of various fuel treatments. Ecosystem services were modeled using the I-tree Eco software (formerly the Urban Forest Effects model). Results showed a reduction in surface and an increase in canopy base height from the treatments and subsequent reductions in fire intensity under moderate and high conditions with the largest difference occurring in the Thin + Fire treatment. Under extreme weather conditions, the effectiveness of all fuel treatments was reduced. Ecosystem services showed a reduction of carbon sequestration in the fuel treatments corresponding to the reduction of smaller diameter trees from the fuel treatments. The greatest difference occurred in the Thin + Fire treatment. These results and the methods used to acquire them show the impacts from fuel treatments can be characterized and compared. This information will allow land managers to make decisions that account for a variety of considerations, while also providing them with tools that can facilitate the cooperation and collaboration of multiple stakeholders.