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Characterizing lessons learned from federal biomass removal projects

Principle Investigator: Kathleen Halvorsen , Social Sci./School of Forest Resources & Env. Sci.
Sponsor: US Forest Service
Award Amount: $35,603
Project Duration: 9/30/2007 - 3/31/2009
MTU Reference Code: 070812

Project Summary

Since the inception of the National Fire Plan in 2001, fuels reduction treatments have increased from about 2.1 million acres to more than 3.0 million acres annually in 2006 (Healthy Forests and Rangelands 2007). Biomass utilization is seen as a growing component to treating greater numbers of acres at high risk of wildfire, particularly within an ever-expanding wildland-urban interface. There are however challenges to biomass removal that impede progress. Understanding those challenges and how land managers and community partners have worked together to overcome them is a necessary part of reducing the threat of wildfire.

We focus on understanding the challenges faced by and innovations created to overcome them that managers and communities around the U.S. have encountered as they try to reduce fire risk. To do this we have done 12 case studies of federal and tribal land management chosen based on a set of key characteristics. These case studies range from the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, to the South Carolina Francis Marion, to the Southwestern Four Corners area, to the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Northern California, and to the Superior National Forest in Northern Minnesota. We have completed our case studies conducting about 150 open-ended interviews with managers, NGO staff, community members, and industry employees. These interviews were taped and roughly half have been transcribed verbatim to date. Over the next nine months, we will complete transcription, perform analysis of the transcripts for patterns, and write case studies on our findings for distribution to the fire management community and publication in peer reviewed publications.