USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center

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New Study: Evaluating Effects and Effectiveness of Fuel Breaks

Fuel breaks are intended to reduce fire size and frequency, and can potentially reduce rates of fire spread. To accomplish these objectives, managers construct fuel breaks to disrupt fuel continuity, reduce fuel accumulation, or increase plants with high moisture content in strips or blocks of land. Land and resource management agencies want better information about the effectiveness of fuel breaks, as well as potential ecological costs and benefits. To supply this information, USGS researchers will synthesize available information to evaluate the ecological effects and effectiveness of fuel-breaks, particularly linear fuel-breaks, across the Great Basin. Their goals are to evaluate the extent to which fuel breaks can be used to protect existing habitat from wildland fires, while paying particular attention to how fuel breaks affect sagebrush habitat, sage-grouse, and other sagebrush-obligate species. Researchers will assess findings in terms of trade-offs between the potential risks and benefits of fuel breaks.

Contact: Douglas Shinneman, FRESC, 208-426-5206, Profile

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Page Last Modified: 1/31/2013