Prescribed Fire Enhances Forest Resistance to Drought in the Sierra Nevada

Oct. 6, 2021

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Nate Stephenson (USGS)

A history of prescribed fire has the potential to reduce tree mortality during drought, according to recently published SWCASC-funded research. The authors studied low elevation forests of the southern Sierra Nevada, comparing stands with and without a recent history of prescribed fire, to determine how continued drought may have changed forest-tree mortality patterns. They found that burned sites, relative to unburned sites, had lower stem density and lower proportions of recently dead trees that presumably died during the drought. This research can inform management practices related to planning for future drought and building forest resilience in this region.