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Tahoe Science Consortium - Manager's Worshop

posted May 31, 2012, 2:22 PM by
"Forest Responses to Fuel Treatments in a Changing Climate" - May 22, 2012

Hosted by: Louise Loudermilk, Alison Stanton, Robert M. Scheller, Jian Yang, Peter Weisberg, Carl Skinner

    Our workshop, held at the TSC last week in Incline Village, NV (Lake Tahoe Basin - LTB) was a success! We presented many of our results of the LTB project (see 'research' page) to managers, scientists, and other state and federal agency personnel. We discussed the implications of applying various fuel treatment - forest thinning - scenarios (e.g., varying rotation periods, strategic placement in ignition prone areas) that may:

1) mitigate for future wildfires
2) reduce overall tree mortality
3) shift species dominance (e.g. white fir to jeffrey pine) & change forest structure
4) maintain (live) forest carbon stocks

    In addition, we discussed the effects of climate change on forest productivity, species establishment, and net ecosystem exchange.  From our model simulations, the LTB essentially remained a carbon sink (sequesters carbon) regardless of climate change scenario, although growth slowed towards the end of century as the forest reached maximum capacity.  By the end of the century, increasing temperatures due to climate change may:

1) substantially reduce establishment ability of many subalpine species (e.g., whitebark pine)
2) alter decomposition rates
3) cause potential shifts is species distribution (e.g., across elevation gradients)
4) reduce fine fuel moisture across a longer growing season, increasing wildfire activity
5) increase fire ignition densities and alter ignition patterns on the landscape
6) lower sequestration potential of total forest carbon (live, dead, soil organic matter)

Throughout the workshop, we discussed how we could best structure and disseminate results for optimal management use.  We expect our project results will provide information on how the strategic placement and intensity of fuel treatments may be used in a climate change context for future mitigation of wildfires (reducing fire spread and severity), maintaining live carbon stocks, and managing species dominance patterns. 

Management involvement has been invaluable in understanding on-the-ground fuel treatment implementation, strategy, and future goals; their input was used extensively in designing current and future fuel treatment approaches.

- Louise Loudermilk