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Wildfire and Fuel Treatments in Riparian Areas of the Interior West
Kathleen Dwire, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO
Riparian areas frequently differ from adjacent uplands in vegetative composition and structure, hydrology, microclimate, and fuel characteristics. These features may contribute to different fire environments, behavior, and properties, which also depend on elevation and regional and watershed physical factors. However, until recently, only a few studies had investigated the behavior, properties, and influence of wildfire on western riparian areas. Recently, research attention has focused on the impacts of fire on aquatic and riparian ecosystems, on fire behavior and effects along stream channels, and the role of fuel reduction treatments as riparian restoration projects. Current issues and recent findings on wildfire and riparian ecosystems will be summarized, and case studies of riparian fuel treatments will be presented.