Brown, R.T., J.K. Agee and J.F. Franklin
There is broad consensus that active management through thinning and fire is urgently needed in many forests of the western United States. This consensus stems from physically based models of fire behavior and substantial empirical evidence. But the types of thinning and fire and where they are applied are the subjects of much debate. We propose that low thinning is the most appropriate type of thinning practice. Treating surface fuels, reducing ladder fuels, and opening overstory canopies generally produce fire-safe forest conditions, but large, fire- resistant trees are also important components of fire-safe forests. The context of place is critical in assigning priority for the limited resources that will be available for restoration treatments. Historical low-severity fire regimes, because of their current high hazards and dominance by fire-resistant species, are the highest priority for treatment. Mixed-severity fire regimes are of intermediate priority, and high-severity fire regimes are of lowest priority. Classification systems based on potential vegetation will help identify these fire regimes at a local scale.