Using BEHAVEPlus for predicting fire behavior in southern Appalachian hardwood stands subjected to fuel reduction treatmentsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
There is a crucial need for fuel reduction in United States forests due to decades of fuel accumulation resulting from fire exclusion. The National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study (FFS) addresses this issue by examining the effects of three fuel reduction treatments on numerous response variables. At an FFS site in the southern Appalachian Mountains, fuels were altered by burning, mechanical treatment, and a combination of burning and mechanical treatment. Each treatment produced a unique fuel complex and altered microclimate for surface fuels by opening stands to wind and light. Treatments were designed to minimize potential wildfire damage although fire behavior is difficult to predict. BEHAVEPlus fire modeling system (Andrews and others 2004) was used to compare predicted fire behavior among treatments based on actual fuel and weather data from the site. These data were used to simulate wildfire behavior during extreme weather conditions in the southern Appalachian fire season. Mechanical only treatments had the tallest flame and scorch heights and fastest rate of spread. Burn treatments had lower fire intensities but the mechanical + burn treatment had the lowest fire intensities of the three treatments. These results could be short-term with continued burning and fuel decomposition.