University of California
Woody Biomass Utilization

Steep Terrain Hazardous Fuels Treatment Demonstration

 

Background and Tour Details

The USDA Forest Service, Cal Fire,  and Sierra Pacific Industries in conjunction with the UC Cooperative Extension are sponsoring a hazardous fuels treatment demonstration (demo).  Focused on conventional and innovative technologies capable of operating on steep terrain (30% plus slope) the demo will be held on Sierra Pacific Industries managed lands near Ice House, California.  This demo will provide equipment vendors and contractors with an opportunity to demonstrate equipment and techniques that might not be currently utilized in northern California. Technology deployed will range from skid steer to excavator equipment, all equipped with mastication attachments to reduce brush and small trees to four inch minus woody material.  The demo will be convened over a five day period with target audiences invited to attend on June 8 and 9.  Equipment utilized will be observed for effectiveness, efficiency, cost, and resource impacts (e.g., soil disturbance, fire behavior).  Findings from the demo will be available Fall 2018.

The target audience for this demo includes fire agencies, natural resource managers, electric utilities, water conservation districts, homeowner associations, fire safe councils, county and city planning departments, fuels treatment contractors, and other stakeholders.

 

The Field Tour will be held on June 8th and 9th, 2018. Please REGISTER HERE to sign up for a time slot. Due to road conditions, group sizes will be limited. Please plan accordingly to meet at the Ice House Resort staging area. Hard hats will be provided, but please bring closed toed shoes and plenty of water.

 


 

Objectives and Outcomes

The primary objective of the steep terrain demo is to raise awareness about different hazardous fuel treatment alternatives and provide key stakeholders with up-to-date information regarding resource impacts, efficiencies, and cost of fuels treatment equipment and techniques. Short-term outcomes include improved ability of government agencies and partners to assess, plan and budget for future fuels treatment projects, heightened cooperator awareness about equipment options and impacts, and improved ability of local contractors to make informed business decisions about what equipment to buy or lease. Long-term project outcomes include improved wildland and watershed health, enhanced ability to defend communities and other infrastructure from wildfires, mitigation of air emissions impacts (including GHG releases during wildfires), improved reduction in hazardous fuel accumulation, reduced site impacts, potential increase in acres treated, and local job retention.

 

Fuels Treatment Technology Innovation and Improvement

Vendors have continued to refine the design of vegetation treatment systems to reduce high fire hazard material and resource impacts. These include promising technologies rearrange excess vegetation using mastication equipment.  The fuel treatment demos provides vendors and contractors the opportunity to demonstrate innovative techniques and equipment that have not yet be deployed in the region and an opportunity for project planners, specialists, and agency partners to directly observe and make field assessments regarding effectiveness and impacts.

Equipment Targeted for Deployment

 

Additional Resources

HFRD Results Presentation - Presented at the California Society of American Foresters Winter Meeting, January 2017

HFRD Presentation - Presented at the 2016 Council on Forest Engineering Annual Meeting

Dry Forest Mechanized Fuels Treatment Trials, TSS Consultants/The Yankee Group - Many research studies have looked at the mechanical treatment of hazardous fuels. However, very few have included the opportunity to observe an array of different treatment technologies in the same location, interface with knowledgeable and experienced operators, and obtain a follow-up summary about results and performance. This report published in 2002 is one of the few known examples of a project involving a series of fuels treatment trials. These trials conducted in three western states (Washington, Idaho, and Oregon) earned numerous positive reviews because of their focus on local situations and partner groups, and they provided information not previously available about effectiveness and costs. The HFRD demos in central and southern California were focused on unique site conditions and vegetation management in this region and the ability of the suitable equipment and treatment systems to address excess fuel buildup.

Fire and Fire Surrogate Study - Although silvicultural treatments can mimic the effects of fire on structural patterns of woody vegetation, virtually no comparative data exist on how these treatments mimic ecological functions of fire. For many, the long term goal of these treatments is to restore historic ecosystem structure and function. While silvicultural treatments can create patterns of woody vegetation that appear similar to those that fire would create, the consequences for nutrient cycling, seed scarification, plant diversity, disease and insect abundance, and wildlife are mostly unknown. Similarly, although combining managed fire with silvicultural treatments adds the critical effects of combustion, we know little about ecological effects, economics, and fire hazard reduction of these methods.  The Fire-Fire Surrogate (FFS) study responds to this void in our knowledge.

Fuel Reduction Projects in Sensitive Areas and on Steep Slopes - USFS


Project Implementation Team

Ricky Satomi

UC Cooperative Extension 530.224.4900 rpsatomi@ucanr.edu

Tad Mason

TSS Consultants 916.600.4174 tmason@tssconsultants.com

Larry Swan

Region 5, USDA Forest Service 707.562.8917, lswan01@fs.fed.us

Martin Twer

The Watershed Center 406.207.1756  martin@thewatershedcenter.com

Project Partners

  • California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
  • Sierra Pacific Industries
  • The Watershed Research and Training Center
  • University of California, Cooperative Extension
  • USDA Forest Service
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • California Forestry Association
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service

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