The national fire and fire surrogate study: early results and future challengesThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Fire-adapted ecosystems today have dense plant cover and heavy fuel loads as a result of fire exclusion and other changes in land use practices. Mechanical fuel treatments and prescribed fire are powerful tools for reducing wildfire potential, but the ecological consequences of their use is unknown. The National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study examines the effects of alternative fuel reduction techniques involving fire and mechanical "surrogate" treatments on numerous environmental and economic variables. Impacts of mechanical fuel treatments and prescribed fire on the Piedmont site are shown for several variables. However, a complete understanding of ecosystem function cannot be gained by considering each of these variables alone. Each component of the ecosystem has a distinct reaction to fuel treatment that may be caused by the treatment directly or by interactions with one or more of the other variables. The goal of the National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study is to understand the complex interactions and pathways among all components of the ecosystem.