New study shows historic fire conditions much more variable than previously thought
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Many recent forest management efforts along Colorado’s Front Range ponderosa pine belt have been aimed at creating widely spaced stands of trees, based on the conventional wisdom that those forests were historically shaped by low-intensity ground fires.
But severe, high-intensity fires were probably much more common in the region than previously believed, said Mark Williams, one of the University of Wyoming researchers who found that at least 80 percent of the ponderosa pine forests in the region were subject to moderate-to-intense fires that destroyed stands and created a patchwork structure, leaving some dense stands and some open forests.
The study, conducted by William Baker and Mark Williams, used extensive land survey data as well as physical evidence of fires, and covered about 4.1 million acres on the Mogollon Plateau and Black Mesa in northern Arizona, in the Blue Mountains in northeastern Oregon, and in the Colorado Front Range. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, Summit County news, US Forest Service | Tagged: fire ecology, fire history, forest thinning, Front Range, Ponderosa pines | 3 Comments »