University of California
Woody Biomass Utilization

Hazardous Fuels Reduction Demonstration



The USDA Forest Service, in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Center for Forestry and other partners have sponsored a series of hazardous fuels treatment demonstrations (demos) at strategic locations throughout central and southern California. These demos provided equipment vendors with an opportunity to demonstrate innovative equipment and techniques that might not be currently utilized in a local area. Each demo covered one week of operation at each location (three locations total) and equipment used were monitored for effectiveness, efficiency, cost, and resource impacts (e.g., soil disturbance, fire behavior). Final results from the demos are now available.

Target audiences included 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.


Objectives and Outcomes

The primary objective of the fuels treatment demos 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.


Final Report


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 that both remove or rearrange excess vegetation using mastication equipment, livestock or hand crews. The fuel treatment demos provided vendors 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 evaluate local effectiveness and impacts.



Additional Resources

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.

Project Implementation Team

Peter Tittmann
UC Berkeley Center for Forestry 510.665.3518
Ricky Satomi
UC Berkeley Center for Forestry 510.665.3662
Tad Mason
TSS Consultants 916.600.4174
Larry Swan
Region 5, USDA Forest Service 707.562.8917,
Jonathan Rumble
Southern California Edison 626.302.1404,


Project Partners

  • Big Bear Fire Authority
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • California Conservation Corps (hand crew)
  • California Forestry Association
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Pacific Southwest Research Station (Riverside Fire and Fuels Program)
  • Ramona Band of Cahuilla (hand crew)
  • Santa Rosa Band of the Cahuilla Indians
  • Southern California Edison
  • Southern California Society of American Foresters
  • Stand Dynamics, LLC
  • Sullivan Logging
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Watershed Research and Training Center
  • University of California Center for Forestry
  • University of California Davis Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department
  • USDA Forest Service
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