Contrasting prescription burning and wildfires in California Sierra Nevada national parks and adjacent national forests

International Journal of Wildland Fire
By: , and 

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Abstract

History of prescription burning and wildfires in the three Sierra Nevada National Park Service (NPS) parks and adjacent US Forest Service (USFS) forests is presented. Annual prescription (Rx) burns began in 1968 in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, followed by Yosemite National Park and Lassen Volcanic National Park. During the last third of the 20th century, USFS national forests adjacent to these parks did limited Rx burns, accounting for very little area burned. However, in 2004, an aggressive annual burn program was initiated in these national forests and in the last decade, area burned by planned prescription burns, relative to area protected, was approximately comparable between these NPS and USFS lands. In 1968, the NPS prescription burning program was unique because it coupled planned Rx burns with managing many lightning-ignited fires for resource benefit. From 1968 to 2017, these natural fires managed for resource benefit averaged the same total area burned as planned Rx burns in the three national parks; thus, they have had a substantial impact on total area burned by prescription. In contrast, on USFS lands, most lightning-ignited fires have been managed for suppression, but increasing attention is being paid to managing wildfires for resource benefit.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Contrasting prescription burning and wildfires in California Sierra Nevada national parks and adjacent national forests
Series title International Journal of Wildland Fire
DOI 10.1071/WF20112
Edition Online First
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher CSIRO
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Country United States
State California
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