Discussion

Let us know what you think about any topic related to the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project in the forums below. The Principal Investigators on the UC Science Team cannot answer every post, but they will read all comments in their areas, and respond to comments as a group at each quarterly meeting. We greatly value your input!

John Battles - SNAMP PI, response to comments by Kim_Ingram, at 11:35 a.m. on 21 July 2014,

The following response to Jerry Bloom's comments re. the American Fire comes from John Battles, SNAMP PI:

"As for the concern regarding the lack of monitoring of the fire-fighting efforts, it seems to me to be a challenging proposition to do the kind of "simple" monitoring Mr Bloom is talking about. Safety concerns and command needs limit access of researchers. And back-fires are often adjusted on the fly from the front lines. So knowing what is what when the emphasis is on containing the fire is anything but a simple matter.

Determining what tree will or will not die is a controversial question. From a scientific perspective, my sense is that most, but not all of those badly burned green trees will die in the next five years. During our re-measure, we will note any hazard trees in our plots that were cut but we cannot assess char and scorch height."

The following comments and concerns were sent to me from Jerry Bloom, a participant in our field trip to the American Fire, June 19, 2014:

"I went on the SNAMP tour of the Last Chance area. It was interesting but I was pretty disturbed by the lack of follow up on what actually happens when the fire runs through the study area. I know that the fire came through before anyone expected that it would but still it would have been nice to have had funds available in advance to monitor the fire behavior and the suppression activity. A good example is that there was much backfiring in the area - I would bet that much of the study area was actually backfired rather than burned by the wildfire. However, the FS has no idea as to where the backfire met the wildfire - not because they could not have made the determination - they just didn't bother to do the monitoring that would have been required.

The roadside hazard sale is really aggressive. They are taking many large old green trees that they claim are dead (they just don't know it). Where have we heard that before?

They did take us to an area where there was a large area of dead fir that they said were not killed by crown fire. The trees were green after the fire was extinguished but have subsequently died. Interestingly this was an area where they had cable logged and thus the slash had been left on the ground. They had hoped for a couple of years of snow to crush the slash down. In an adjacent area that hadn't been logged, the ground fire did not kill the trees. They thought that both these areas were from the wildfire, but I am suspicious. After returning home and looking at the maps, I think that both those areas may have been backfired. Again, with no monitoring, there is no way to know.

The SNAMP team is trying to get emergency funds to do some monitoring now but the roadside salvage is occurring regardless and I fear a great opportunity has been lost."

Jerry Bloom, Science Director Forest Issues Group Nevada City, CA

Thank you Jerry. We will have someone respond to your comments and concerns as soon as possible.

Kim

USFS response to Bear Grass prescription burn comments & questions by Kim_Ingram, at 1:40 p.m. on 3 November 2011,

Prescribed Burning for Beargrass Enhancement on the Last Chance Project November 3, 2011 "I was forwarded notice about a planned "Bear Grass burn area" at the Last Chance study site. Do you have information about the objectives/prescription for that particular treatment as well as what kinds of monitoring data will be collected pre/post to evaluate the effects? My colleague, Frank Lake, and I are interested in gathering information about fire effects on cultural resources as well as monitoring prescribed fires on the quality of those resources for cultural uses. Thank you, Jonathan Long Pacific Southwest Research Station." Bear grass Xerophyllum tenax, is a fire-tolerant species that needs periodic fire to produce new growth, and is often the first plant to re-sprout after a fire. Low intensity fire eliminates dead, dry blades from the previous year’s growth and encourages supple new leaf growth that is used by traditional weavers to make baskets, hats, and other items. Treatment Objectives 1. Conduct a low intensity burn consuming 80% to100% of the above-surface bear grass leaves to stimulate re-sprouting of new leaves for weaving. 2. Keep unwanted vegetation from encroaching upon the gathering site. 3. Maintain a minimum of forty percent effective soil cover. Fire Behavior Prescription 1. Flame lengths from 3 to 4 feet. 2. Effective wind speed from 6 to 7 miles per hour. 3. Scorch height from 3 to 12 feet. 4. Forward spread rate from 238 to 508 feet per hour. 5. Backing spread rate from 13 to 20 feet per hour. 6. Spotting distance not to exceed 1584 feet. Monitoring On November 2, 2011 2.9 acres of the designated beargrass enhancement area within the Last Chance Integrated Vegetation Management Project were ignited. Preliminary observations indicate that all of the treatment objectives were successfully met. While the Forest Service did not collect pre-burn data for this specific burn area, adjacent unburned fuels are representative of the pre-existing condition. For additional information, contact: Larry Peabody, Fuels Specialist Tahoe National Forest, American River Ranger District 22830 Foresthill Road. Foresthill CA 95631 (530) 367 2224 x 240

Beargrass burning at Last Chance Site by jwlong, at 10:39 a.m. on 1 November 2011,

I was forwarded notice about a planned "Bear Grass burn area" at the Last Chance study site. Do you have information about the objectives/prescription for that particular treatment as well as what kinds of monitoring data will be collected pre/post to evaluate the effects? My colleague, Frank Lake, and I are interested in gathering information about fire effects on cultural resources as well as monitoring prescribed fires on the quality of those resources for cultural uses. Thank you, Jonathan Long Pacific Southwest Research Station

The FFEH team is NOT exploring the impact of pine root gathering on carbon storage at either of the SNAMP research sites. Our experiment is to evaluate the impact of forest and fuel treatments. While these treatments will undoubtedly impact the surface and fine roots of all the tree species, we will not be able to make any deductions that inform the impact of root gathering. Regarding pine cone production, we agree that the planned treatments will undoubtedly influence seed production for trees in the treated areas. Generally we expect these trees to increase their production as their vigor and growth improves. But again we are not explicitly addressing this interesting question.

John

Benefits and sustainability of traditional gathering by Kim_Ingram, at 9:37 a.m. on 8 August 2011,

The following question was asked of the Fire & Forest Ecosystem Health team by Bill Tripp, Eco-cultural Restoration Specialist of the Karuk Tribe, Dept. of Natural Resources:

I would appreciate it if someone could ask if they (the Fire & Forest Ecosystem Health team) are looking at how traditional gathering of Pine roots could potentially contribute to enhanced root production and associated long term below ground carbon storage and expedited growth and associated above ground carbon storage. This would help to provide documentation on the benefits and sustainability of traditional gathering as an ecosystem service and/or resource benefit that can be attributed to management actions where such traditional gathering is occurring or can otherwise be authorized to occur freely. In addition, a similar and connected activity in relation to gathering in Pine stands would be the effects on the quality and quantity of Pine nuts in relation to management actions. It is my understanding that pine nuts were historically a major component of subsistence and trade amongst Native Americans in the Sierra Nevada’s, and pine roots were a primary material in construction of the baskets utilized in the collection of that resource. There are likely additional plants associated with that ecotype that are utilized in the construction of these baskets that should be enhanced in the management of Pine stands and adjacent ecotypes within Sierra Nevada landscapes. The information on resources utilized in the construction of these baskets is likely available from local Tribes, traditional practitioners, tribal elders, and/or museums. Just food for thought.... Thank you,

Bill Tripp Eco-Cultural Restoration Specialist Karuk Tribe Dept. of Natural Resources (530) 627-3446 x3023

UCST response to re-treatment interval question by Kim_Ingram, at 11:38 a.m. on 2 November 2010,

Cathy, The following is the UCST rsponse to your question concerning information on re-treatment in a fuels break area:

This is an interesting question that is not directly addressed by the SNAMP project. In our modeling we had to make assumptions on how fuel treatments will change over time but I currently have a student working on a PhD in my lab that is investigating how the actual understories of shaded fuel breaks change over the last 20 years. Her name is Linsday and she hopes to finish her PhD by May of next year. I cant say much more about this topic until she finishes her work. Scott Stephens

Maintenance of fuels treatment projects by Kim_Ingram, at 12:50 p.m. on 25 October 2010,

In response to information from the Fire & Forest Ecosystem Health Team presented at the annual meeting re.the length of time between scheduled maintenance in fuel breaks, Cathy Koos Breazeal from the Amador Fire Safe Council has submitted the following comments and questions:

"Here in Amador County, we have been building shaded fuel breaks since 2003 and we monitor those projects regularly for maintenance and I am seeing the fuel breaks in all states of need, from pristine at 5 years, to needing maintenance after only 2 or 3 years. We are working primarily in elevations from 2200 to 4000 feet. Some of the difference I think can be attributed to how the project was laid out by the RPF (we use 3 or 4 RPFs) and what contractor did the work; as well as the obvious differences in aspect, plant community, etc.

Is there more information the FFEH team can share on this topic?"

UCST response to George Terhune comments dated 3/18/10 by Kim_Ingram, at 3:04 p.m. on 5 April 2010,

George,

Here is the response from the Fire and Forest Ecosystem Health Team to your comments/questions dated 3/18/10:

George: 1. " If SNAMP is limited to a focus on "the forest management alternative approved in the 2004 Record of Decision," how can it be an example of "adaptive" management? In any case, you've already gone beyond the SPLAT strategy of the 2004 ROD by including a DFPZ example in the meta-analysis, and that is entirely proper, because the 2004 ROD acknowledged and supported the demonstration of the DFPZ strategy mandated by the HFQLG Forest Recovery Act. It's apparent that Congress intended that strategy to be taken seriously as a candidate for wider application."

UCST: The land management alternatives that the USFS is proposing for the SNAMP project is under the 2004 Record of Decision. SNAMP also thought it would be a good idea to work to integrate other studies in some disciplines to produce a broader assessment of the topic. The first such study was on landscape fire behavior and effects. This effort summarized what had been done independently in other areas of the Sierra. We continue to work on the SNAMP fire modeling since this is our present charge but wont work any more on the additional projects.

George: 2a) "I agree that "a more fruitful exercise" can and should be the next step. But it should not be to compare implemented DFPZs to a theoretical SPLAT design. Since it isn't possible to implement both DFPZs and SPLATs on the same ground, the most useful direct comparisons would be theoretical to theoretical, which would not only be a fairer comparison,it would permit manipulation of both DFPZs and SPLATs over a range of conditions and assumptions. For example, what performance is delivered by each theory when different percentages of the landscape have been treated? When the first 10% is treated? Then another 10% added? Then another 10% added?"

UCST: This is a good idea but outside the of the SNAMP study.

George: 2b)" One of the largest differences that could be expected to show up would be how safely and effectively fire suppression would be supported by various implementations of each strategy. There should also be comparisons under strict and less strict rules regarding where and when management activity is permitted. Those comparisons are needed to support management decisions on how best to adapt to rapidly changing conditions, such as climate change and water supply effects, when balances must be established among competing priorities."

UCST: The SNAMP study is focusing on what the Tahoe and Sierra National Forests are proposing related to fuels treatments in their firesheds. We will work to include fire suppression modeling in our evaluations. Other ideas above are outside the present effort.

George: 2c) "Finally, there should be comparisons of economic effects from implementing each strategy, because the amount of treatment that can be done is limited by the cost efficiency of the management activity, and the availability of the workforce and industrial infrastructure to do the huge amount of work required also depends on the economic practicality and efficiency of management decisions."

UCST: Economic analysis has been a topic brought up before regarding the SNAMP study but it is not included in the approved work-plan and is therefore outside of the current effort.

SPLATs vs DFPZ discussion by Kim_Ingram, at 2:36 p.m. on 18 March 2010,

The following was sent to me from George Terhune re. the SPLATs vs DFPZs discussion:

Thank you for responding to my comments, though of course that leads to further comments and questions. 1. If SNAMP is limited to a focus on 'the forest management alternative approved in the 2004 Record of Decision', how can it be an example of 'adaptive management'? In any case, you've already gone beyond the SPLAT strategy of the 2004 ROD by including a DFPZ example in the meta-analysis, and that is entirely proper, because the 2004 ROD acknowledged and supported the demonstration of the DFPZ strategy mandate by the HFQLG Forest Recovery Act. It's apparent that Congress intended the strategy to be taken seriously as a candidate for wider application. 2. I agree that a 'more fruitful exercise' can and should be the next step. But it should not be to compare implemented DFPZs to a theoretical SPLAT design. Since it isn't possible to implement both DFPZs and SPLATs on the same ground, the most useful direct comparisons would be theoretical to theoretical, which would not only be a fairer comparison, but it would permit manipulation of both DFPZs and SPLATs over a range of conditions and assumptions. For example, what performance is delivered by each theory when different percentages of the landscape have been treated? When the first 10% is treated? Then another 10% added? Then another 10% added? One of the largest differences that could be expected to show up would be how safely and effectiviely fire suppression would be supported by various implementations of each strategy. There should also be comparisons under strict and less strict rules regarding where and when management activity is permitted. Those comparisons are needed to support management decisions on how best to adapt to rapidly changing conditions, such as climate change and water supply effects, when balances must be established among competing priorities. Finally, there should be comparisons of economic effects from implementing each strategy, because the amount of treatment that can be done is limited by the cost efficiency of the management activity, and the availability of the workforce and industrial infrastructure to do the huge amount of work required also depends on the economic practicality and efficiency of management decisions. That isn't everything that needs to be done, but maybe it would be a decent start.

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