The following is the response from the science team to your questions and
comments re. SPLATs vs DFPZs. If you have any follow up questions/comments,
please feel free to use this discussion board so all interested parties may be
Reply to questions from George Terhune from the SNAMP FFEH Team.
1) The Meta-analysis was unpersuasive, due to the great differences among sites
and treatments, which cannot be papered over with statistical manipulations.
Answer: The objective of the fire integration project is to compare the
performance of disparate treatments. Thus the challenge is to construct
meaningful measures of comparison. One of our attempts at comparison was with
the normalized impact metric where we controlled for the percent of area
treated. The resulting index does not have the intuitive meaning of the raw
measures (e.g., changes in fireline intensity) but it does allow us to compare
across sites. The statistical manipulations are not meant to paper over
differences but to provide a valid means of comparisons.
2) Why has nobody yet done a direct comparison of the SPLAT strategy vs the DFPZ
strategy, using the same terrain, fuel, weather scenarios, area of treatment,
type of treatment, and modeling techniques, but varying only the pattern of
treatments on the ground? After all, the fundamental difference between the
SPLAT and DFPZ strategies is the pattern of treatment, and DFPZs are an
exception to the Regional policy specifying SPLATs, and that exception was
specifically made by Congress to "demonstrate the effectiveness" of the DFPZ
strategy. It isn't enough to say "it’s effective." You have to say "How
effective," "Compared to what?," and "How efficient, in terms of
cost-effectiveness, effect on suppression cost and firefighter safety, and
effectiveness at different levels of implementation, from a few percent of the
landscape treated in early years, to perhaps 30 percent of the landscape treated
after 10 or 15 years. What effect would each strategy have on suppression
effectiveness and safety? If these questions aren't important enough to be
investigated directly, what is it that would be more important?
Answer: The suggestion for an evaluation of multiple forest management options
for one site is a good one. However it is not the goal of SNAMP. The role of the
UC Science Team was defined by the federal and state agencies who signed the MOU
that stated the goals of the project. The focus is on the forest management
alternative approved in the 2004 Record of Decision.
The UC Science Team and the Pacific Southwest Research Station did make a
commitment to collaborate in order to gain the most insight from the research
efforts underway in the Sierra Nevada. The Fire Integration Study is part of
this commitment. While the insights may frustrate in what they don’t do, they do
support the general principle behind all coordinated landscape-level treatments.
In short, their impact on modifying fire behavior across the landscape is more
than the sum of the individual treatments.
A more fruitful exercise would be to compare the implemented DFPZ network in
Meadow Valley to a theoretical SPLAT design for the same area. This comparison
would not be perfect, but it may be worthwhile. The problem is who would design
the SPLATs? A totally theoretical design (regular, louvered, rectangular
treatments) would never actually happen on the ground (Collins et al. 2010). As
was the case with the DFPZs in Meadow Valley the planned network differed
considerably from the actually implemented network. One could imagine a similar
situation with a planned SPLAT design and actual implementation. So, if a more
realistic SPLAT design could be developed perhaps PSW could take on the
Collins, B.M., S.L. Stephens, J.J. Moghaddas, and J. Battles. 2010. Challenges
and approaches in planning fuel treatments across fire-excluded forested
landscapes. J. Forest 108(1):24-31.
This website is maintained by the UC Science Team, including researchers from UC Berkeley, UC Merced, the University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, and the University of Minnesota.