Hazardous Fuels Reduction

The USDA Forest Service in conjunction with the University of California, CAL FIRE, TSS Consultants and other partners have implemented a series of hazardous fuels treatment demonstrations (HFTD's). Technology deployed at each demonstration ranged from manual hand treatments to steep terrain excavators and demonstrate innovative equipment and techniques that might be currently underutilized. 

Treatments included a week of continuous operation and monitoring of effectiveness, efficiency, cost and resource impacts:

Objectives and Outcomes

The primary objective of these three demonstrations was to raise awareness about different hazardous fuel treatment alternatives and provide up-to-date information regarding resource impacts, efficiencies and cost of fuels treatment.  Short-term outcomes include improved ability of government agencies and partners to assess, plan and budget for future fuels treatment projects, heightened collaborator awareness about equipment options and improved ability of local contractors to make informed business decisions about which 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.

Vendors continue to refine the design of vegetation treatment systems to reduce high fire hazard material and resource impacts. These include promising technologies that rearrange excess vegetation using mastication equipment.  Demonstrations have focused on conventional and innovative technologies to address hazardous fuel treatment on flat and steep terrain (30% plus slope).

Final Reports

Posted below are links to the three separate fuels treatment studies. These studies were focused on deploying both conventional and innovative techniques and equipment across a variety of vegetation types and topography.

    The most recent HFTD demo was held on SPI land in the American River watershed and focused on equipment capable of operating on steep terrain (30% or greater slope gradient).
    The HFTD demos in central and southern California were focused on unique site conditions and vegetation types and the ability of suitable equipment and treatment systems to address excess fuel build-up.
    This study was focused on the deployment of various treatment systems across four separate sites within the Inland West. These trials were conducted in three western states (Washington, Idaho, and Oregon) on USFS managed land. The trials earned numerous positive reviews because of the focus on local situations and partner groups, and they provided information not previously available about effectiveness and costs.
For more information and other relevant studies and resources visit the Research Publications page. 


Treatment Options & Technology

Project Collaborators

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