The Nenana Ridge Experimental Fuels Treatment Research Project was designed to quantify the effects of fuels reduction treatments on fire behavior and post-fire vegetation dynamics in Alaska black spruce forests.
Scientists, engineers and foresters from the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire, Fuels and Smoke program worked with scientists from the USFS Pacific Northwest station, UAF, the Alaska Fire Service and local land managers to measure the effect of different treatments on fire behavior.
Mechanical (e.g., shearblading) and manual (e.g., thinning) fuel treatments have become the preferred strategy of many fire managers and agencies for fire management. However, few observations exist that document the actual effect of different fuel treatments on fire behavior.
The Nenana Ridge project began in 2006 with preparation of four 1-acre treatment blocks, and a prescribed burn was conducted in June 2009. The primary objective of the project was to characterize the effectiveness of the treatments in reducing fire intensity. Fire-proof digital sensors and video cameras were used to document the burn, which allowed scientists to compare fire behavior between control plots and fuel treatment plots.
All three treatments that burned resulted in significant reductions in fire intensity.