Northwest Gateway Forest Restoration

Manzanita Lake Campground Before and After Mechanical Treatment
A hand holds a sign in front of a dense forest with crowded trees and a dead bush in the foreground A sign on a yellow posts sits in the foreground of a open forest with clearly well-spaced trees
Manzanita Lake Campground area before treatment.
Manzanita Lake Campground area after mechanical thinning restoration.


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A Century of Fire Exclusion

One hundred years of fire exclusion in the northwest corner of Lassen Volcanic National Park has resulted in overly dense and unhealthy forest areas. In the absence of surface fires, young white fir have formed dense thickets crowding out old growth pines, aspen stands, and understory shrub and grass vegetation. Lassen Volcanic will implement a mechanical treatment strategy to remove unhealthy fuel loads. The process will reduce old growth mortality rates, promote a more varied stand structure, and restore and protect wildlife habitat.

Restoring Fuel Load Levels through Mechanical Treatment

The initial step in this forest restoration process involves onetime entry with mechanized equipment to reduce live understory and ladder fuels. Prescriptions for each unit focus on areas near old-growth pine, aspen groves, and healthy pine stands. Successful fuel removal reduces the possibility of high-intensity wildfire and prepares the forest for a return to historic and natural fire activity.

Maintaining a Healthy Forest Structure with Prescribed Fire

Once natural fuel load levels are restored through mechanical treatment, fire is reintroduced onto the landscape. Historically, fire burned regularly in this area every 5 to 20 years, naturally maintaining density and forest health. Prescribed fire applications in similar conditions without prior mechanical treatment, have resulted in high intensity fire behavior. The combination of both treatments restores healthy forest structure and supports the use of prescribed fire to maintain areas without further use of mechanical equipment.

Restoration Goals

The overall goal of this treatment strategy is to reestablish a fire adapted forest landscape by restoring a more resilient, diverse forest structure. Specifically, the treatment will:

  • Maintain a multi-aged forest with significant old-growth elements
  • Promote a more varied stand structure
  • Encourage stand species diversity, and restore and protect wildlife habitat.
  • Allow for maintenance and restoration without future use of mechanical equipment
Manzanita Lake Campground before and after restoration
Manzanita Lake before and after restoration

NPS Photos

Mechanical Treatment Process

The Northwest Gateway Forest Restoration project includes mechancial treatment. Forest Service and Park Service fire and natural resource specialists developed thinning prescriptions for each unit specifying the type and location of fuel loads to be removed and the location of retention areas for wildlife habitat. Fuel load removal is focused on areas near old-growth pine, aspen groves, and healthy pine stands.

With thinning prescriptions in place for each unit, a local contractor utilizes mechanized equipment to collect and remove live fuel loads. Timber and biomass generated by the process are managed by the contractor as a part of the larger project contract.

Once the forest structures in the treatment areas have been restored, fire can be utilized to maintain and restore the areas without further use of mechanical equipment.

Map of Manzanita Lake area with forest in green fill and red outline for prescribed burn areas
Map of Northwest Gateway Zone 1 Project Area.

Last updated: October 10, 2018

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