As demonstrated by this study, hazardous fuels treatments do have ecological effects that need to be considered in setting management objectives. Specifically, findings from this study highlight significant differences between treatments, including the following:
- In sites where understory vegetation is masticated and left on site, fire behavior indices actually increased in comparison to unmasticated fuelbeds under the tested parameters.
- Low intensity spring burns can be used to reduce surface fuel loading in masticated fuels, but mortality to residual vegetation may be high.
- Vegetation response to treatments is highly variable, and closely correlated with pre-existing condition.
- Most exotic plant species are adapted to disturbances and will increase post treatment.
- Treatments that retain greater levels of overstory shading and create less bare ground patches greatly mitigate the risk of increasing exotic plant cover.