Simulations of alternative mechanical thinning treatment programs on western timberland
We used the Economics of Biomass Removals model to evaluate the required treatment acreages, volumes removed, treatment costs and product revenues from national forest and other ownerships. We used three distinct treatment prescriptions to achieve two hazard reduction goals for treatable timberlands in the Western United States. The two hazard reduction goals were to maintain current hazard levels over 10 years, and to reduce hazard levels by 20 percent over 10 years. We also simulated one treatment prescription on national forest timberland only in order to evaluate the effect of requiring a minimum level of treatment in each State. These simulations show that costs and revenues differ by intensity of the hazard reduction goal and by treatment prescription. They show that uneven-aged treatment prescriptions tend to be more expensive than thin-from-below prescriptions for accomplishing hazard reduction goals. Uneven-aged prescriptions, however, yield greater timber product volumes and values for landowners, offsetting the higher costs. On the other hand, in situations without wood product markets, thin-from-below prescriptions could be a better option because of the lower net costs.