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iMast

An integrated study investigating the effects of mastication fuel treatments on fuel and fire behavior.

Many land management agencies are exploring a wide variety of fuel treatments to lower fire intensities and severities and to restore ecosystems to historical conditions. One treatment that is currently gaining favor is fuel mastication, also referred to as grinding, mulching, or chipping. A variety of specially designed equipment is used to shred, flail, chip, or crush canopy fuel (seedling, sapling, and pole-sized trees) and surface fuel (fine and coarse woody material and shrubs) into smaller sizes that are deposited on the ground in a compact layer with a high bulk density. When burned, these fuelbeds are expected to support slowly spreading fires that are relatively easy to control. The first of four fully integrated phases is to describe masticated fuel characteristics by measuring fuelbed properties that are important to the prediction of fire behavior and effects. The second phase involves developing a fuel sampling protocol that can easily quantify fuel loadings for a variety of management purposes. Phase three will describe the behavior of fire burning in masticated fuelbeds. The final phase is to study the effects of both burned and unburned masticated fuelbeds on major ecosystem elements such as vegetation response, fuel consumption, soil heating, and nutrient cycling. Combined, the phases of this study will help to understand the effects of masticated fuel on various ecosystem processes and characteristics.

This study is also integrated with the MASTIDON project that explores the changes in physical, chemical, and spatial characteristics of masiticated fuelbeds over time, and the University of Idaho JFSP project that explores the fire behavior characteristics of burning masticated fuels.

The goal of this study is to investigate the effects of masticating fuel on various ecosystem processes and characteristics.

The objectives are to:

  • Describe masticated fuel characteristics that are important for predicting fire behavior and fire effects
  • Develop a fuel sampling protocol that can easily quantify fuel loadings in masticated fuelbeds
  • Describe the behavior of fire burning in masticated fuelbeds
  • Evaluate effects of burned and burned masticated fuelbeds on elements such as vegetation response, fuel consumption, soil heating, and nutrient cycling

Photo: A masticator flailing canopy fuels and creating masticated fuelbeds

Photo: Hydroaxe shredder
Modified: Apr 13, 2016