Luke J.Zachmann, Daniel W.H. Shaw and Brett G. Dickson

Forest Ecology and Management

Published date February 1, 2018

Prescribed fire and natural recovery produce similar long-term patterns of change in forest structure in the Lake Tahoe basin, California

  • Looks at 20  years of data on the response of mixed conifer forest stands in the Sierra Nevada, California to two distinctly different management approaches
  • The results indicate that treated and long-unaltered, untreated areas may be moving in a similar direction, which runs counter to many regional studies
  • Finds that treated and untreated areas experienced declines in tree density, increases in the size of the average individual, and losses of surface fuels in most size classes
  • Finds that there is similar long-term forest structure change from prescribed fire and natural recovery
  • Small trees and fine fuels are declining in long-recovering, untreated forest
  • Argues that management approaches that promote naturally recovering landscapes may complement ongoing and planned fuel reduction treatments
  • Concludes that allowing for natural processes to proceed unimpeded may also be important for maintaining or increasing forest heterogeneity, resilience, and biodiversity