20-year study confirms prescribed burning, forest thinning reduce risks of catastrophic wildfire

By Guy McCarthy
The Union Democrat
January 10, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

Scott Stephens

A 20-year experiment in the north-central Sierra Nevada recently confirmed what many local, state and federal agencies have been saying for years — that forest management techniques such as prescribed burning, restoration thinning, or a combination of both, effectively reduce risks of catastrophic wildfire in California. Beginning in 2001, the lead investigator, Scott Stephens, Ph.D, a professor of fire science at the University of California, Berkeley, and a team of other researchers focused on prescribed fire and thinning for two decades in the same location, Blodgett Forest Research Station, a 4,000-acre experimental forest located about 65 miles northeast of Sacramento. …Stephens’ 20-year study underscores the fact that fire intensity decreases with the decrease in available fuels, and it’s important to note that the combination of thinning and prescribed fire is the key to long term success, said Gary Whitson, the Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit unit forester and pre-fire division chief.

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