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Unit 1: The Changing Fire Environment

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Let us look at how fuels change over time. First of all, changes occur due to seasonal variations. Depending on time and the character of season, we have differing proportions of dead to live fuels. The amount of curing of annual growth varies, and the moisture content in dead and live fuels changes.

In addition, we must recognize other natural or man-made forces at work. These are disease or insect infestations, wind or flood damage, drought or frost damage, the harvesting or manipulation of vegetation, and prescribed fires or wildfires that have recently occurred. Each of these can produce changes in fuel loading, arrangement, and/or moisture content.


  • Changes due to seasonal variations:
    • The proportion of dead to live fuels.
    • The amount of curing of annual growth.
    • Moisture content in dead and live fuels.

    Changes in Moisture Content Over Time

  • Changes due to other natural or man-caused activities:
    • Disease or insect infestation
    • Wind or flood damage
    • Harvesting or manipulating vegetation
    • Drought or frost damage
    • Prescribed or wildfire

Insect Infestation Effects of Harvesting Prescribed Fires


  • Changes due to aspect, elevation
  • Changes due to microclimates

Mountain Side River Bottoms

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, September 27). Unit 1: The Changing Fire Environment. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License