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Reducing Wildfire Risk on Your Private Managed Forest Land

As the weather is (finally!) becoming more seasonal with temperatures on the rise, private managed forest landowners are thinking about the risk of wildfire on their properties and what they can do to reduce the potential for damaging wildfire while improving overall forest health and wildlife habitat.

Private forest landowners know they have little control over most of the factors that determine how severe a wildfire will be. For example, they can’t control the wind, topography, or oxygen, and can’t prevent every wildfire ignition.

One element that can be controlled however is fuel. Reducing the amount of fuel before a wildfire happens can affect fire behaviour. Where fuels have been reduced beforehand, wildfire intensity and severity are usually reduced.

According to a paper published by Oregon State University[1], there are five principles of creating and maintaining wildfire resistant forests:

1.    Reduce surface fuels
2.    Increase the height to the base of tree crowns
3.    Increase spacing between tree crowns
4.    Keep larger trees of more fire-resistant species
5.    Promote more fire-resistant forest at the landscape level (the surrounding private land and public neighbours)

Following these principles accomplishes three goals:
·      Reduces the intensity of a wildfire, making it easier for fire suppression
·      Increases the odds that the forest will survive a wildfire. Small trees, shrubs, and other understory
vegetation may be injured or killed, but larger trees in the stand will only be scorched, and soil damage also will be reduced
·      Reduces the extent of restoration activities needed, such as replanting or erosion control measures
 
For more information about reducing the risk of wildfire on private forest land, including some useful case studies, you can find the Oregon State University paper, ‘Reducing Fire Risk on Your Forest Property’, online at: https://knowyourforest.org/sites/default/files/documents/Reducing_Fire_Risk_full.pdf

‘Reducing Fire Risk on Your Forest Property’, Oregon State University, PNW 618, October 2010
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