Northwest Gateway Forest Restoration
Manzanita Lake Campground area before treatment.
Manzanita Lake Campground area after mechanical thinning restoration.
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.
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:
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.
Last updated: October 10, 2018