The Sierra Nevada landscape has seen significant fire suppression which has driven the buildup of fuel loads and risk of high intensity forest fire. A variety of forest management regulations direct the forest service to maintain and restore old forest conditions as well as to reduce the risks of large and severe fire events.
These goals are potentially competing and require a balanced, landscape approach to accomplish the various desired outcomes. Mechanical silvicultural activities have the potential to alleviate some of the fire risk, with notable effects on wildlife species in other parts of the country, but the effects on wildlife in the Sierra Nevada are largely unknown.
Point Blue has conducted surveys since 2002 in areas targeted for fuels treatments. Treatments include Defensible Fuel Profile Zones (DFPZ, which entails manual removal of understory vegetation and dead plant matter, typically near roads), group-selection timber harvesting, mastication of shrubs, and prescribed burning.
Our projects were designed to sample the avian communities in forests prior to and following fuels-reduction treatments in order to detect the response to changes in vegetation structure and composition. We also conducted surveys in treated and untreated stands.
Visit our Sierra Nevada Avian Monitoring Information Network website for more information on study design, methods, results, partners, and resources for our work with fuels reduction.