News and Events
Mitigating wildfire risk is a land management priority across the U.S. Reducing fuel loads through mechanical treatments can control understory and midstory vegetation and prevent fuel ladders that can spread fire from ground vegetation up into the canopy crown. A book chapter by USDA Forest Service scientists Dana Mitchell and Mathew Smidt summarizes costs, benefits, and limitations for common mechanical fuel treatments.
Site preparation (site prep) tractors are large-wheeled machines with mulcher head attachments. These machines can turn shrubs and small trees into wood chips and chunks. They are often used to control vegetation before a prescribed fire, improve wildlife habitat, or as a replacement for fire where the risk is too high. If site prep tractors could also be used to install fire breaks, they could provide managers a more versatile and responsive tool to manage risks associated with prescribed burning.
Meet SRS scientist Dana Mitchell, a research engineer and project leader with the Forest Operations Research unit in Auburn, Alabama. Her team studies the science and technology involved in physical alterations of the forest. They work to balance the ecological impact and the value generation of forest management.
Cut and haul costs. Elemental time study. Machine production hour. Ask USDA Forest Service scientist Dana Mitchell about any of these forest engineering terms, and you’re in for a treat.
As a research forest engineer, Mitchell’s work focuses on improving the technology and business of forest operations – with a broader goal of improving forest management and minimizing environmental impacts.
Five U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists – John Stanturf, Emile Gardiner, Leslie Groom, Dana Mitchell and James Perdue – recently contributed to four review articles that were part of a special issue of the journal BioEnergy Research. SRS researchers collaborated on the journal articles with scientists and engineers from a number of universities and other agencies, including the Forest Service Northern Research Station, Pacific Northwest Research Station, and Forest Products Laboratory, as well as the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service.