Funded Research Projects: FOREST ECOLOGY

Fuel and fire hazard assessment at the USFS Savannah River Site using the Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS)

Research Sponsored By: US Forest Service
Principal Investigator: James Agee
Project Description

The USDA Forest Service has been conducting wildland fire management research at the Savannah River Site, SC for almost two decades. This work includes smoke management, prescribed fire effects, fuel loading analysis, firefighter health risks, atmospheric modeling, and ecological studies. While individual studies address specific objectives and questions important to land management of the site, there is currently a compelling requirement to integrate the information and to assess fuels and fuels treatment strategies across the entire Savannah River Site landscape by incorporating sensitive areas like the facility interface with the surrounding private lands and public roads. Better scientific and technical information and analytical methods exist that can help refine the use and allocation of fuel treatments such as prescribed fire and mechanical, chemical, and harvesting treatments to justify budgets and to assess changes in wildfire and smoke emissions risks. Specific management and operational objectives are to: 1) reduce wildfire risk sufficiently to manage all wildfires within initial attack resources and reduce unacceptable impacts to Site facilities, employees, and the public from wildfires; 2) allocate a full array of fuel treatments based on forest dynamics, benefits, and costs; 3) optimize the allocation of prescribed fire with respect to red cockaded woodpecker habitat, fuels, and smoke objectives; 4) quantify to the extent possible, changes in costs, wildfire risks, and other impacts; and 5) identify specific barriers to the implementation or application of a specific fuel treatment.