Robert B. Campbell Jr
Aspen Firebreaks: 60 Years of Treatments in South-Central Utah
Robert B. Campbell Jr., Ecologist, Fishlake National Forest, Richfield, Utah,Coauthors Dale L. Bartos, Linda M. Chappell, and Kevin P. Greenhalgh,
The Tushar Mountains, Fishlake National Forest in south-central Utah, have more than 100,000 acres of mixed-conifer/aspen ecosystems. A variety of treatments occurred in this area including: the Grindstone Flat clearcut and exclosure study in 1934; the Betenson Mill wildfire in 1958; and the Betenson Flat spruce harvest in 1972. These treatments gave rise to vigorous young stands of quaking aspen.
All of these treatments were in the path of the Pole Creek wildfire that burned through the area in 1996 and scorched nearly 8,000 acres. The Pole Creek fire burned around these aspen stands that were about 20, 40, and 60 years old. All were effective firebreaks during the 1996 wildfire. This landscape example shows that young aspen stands can be effective firebreaks for at least 60 years.
Guidelines are provided for the types and strategic placement of treatments. Managers are encouraged to plan treatments in mixed-confer/aspen forests to compartmentalize the expanse of flammable landscapes. Such actions will reduce the risk of widespread unwanted wildland fires.