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Forestry Sciences Laboratory - Moscow, Idaho
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Soil & Water
Engineering Publications


Project Leader:
William J. Elliot
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Cumulative watershed effects of fuel management in the western United States

Elliot, William J.; Miller, Ina Sue; Audin, Lisa., eds. 2010. Cumulative watershed effects of fuel management in the western United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-231. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 299 p.

Keywords: cumulative effects, watershed, wildfire, fuel management, water quality, soil erosion

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Abstract: Fire suppression in the last century has resulted in forests with excessive amounts of biomass, leading to more severe wildfires, covering greater areas, requiring more resources for suppression and mitigation, and causing increased onsite and offsite damage to forests and watersheds. Forest managers are now attempting to reduce this accumulated biomass by thinning, prescribed fire, and other management activities. These activities will impact watershed health, particularly as larger areas are treated and treatment activities become more widespread in space and in time. Management needs, laws, social pressures, and legal findings have underscored a need to synthesize what we know about the cumulative watershed effects of fuel management activities. To meet this need, a workshop was held in Provo, Utah, on April, 2005, with 45 scientists and watershed managers from throughout the United States. At that meeting, it was decided that two syntheses on the cumulative watershed effects of fuel management would be developed, one for the eastern United States, and one for the western United States. For the western synthesis, 14 chapters were defined covering fire and forests, machinery, erosion processes, water yield and quality, soil and riparian impacts, aquatic and landscape effects, and predictive tools and procedures. We believe these chapters provide an overview of our current understanding of the cumulative watershed effects of fuel management in the western United States.

Moscow FSL publication no. 2010a