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Unit 2: Fuels Classification

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Vertical Arrangement

In some mature timber situations, we need to be concerned with several levels of fuels which may help transport fire from the surface to the crowns. The graphic below suggests four levels. Surface fuels mostly consist of grass and litter of various sizes. Low fuels may consist of shrubs, low limbs, and small young trees called regeneration. A subcanopy might consist of understory trees and larger regeneration. The canopy is made up of mature tree crowns perhaps over 100 feet tall. Fire may burn through one or more levels without burning the canopy. Regardless of the maximum height of the fuels and the number of fuel levels involved, we are concerned with the vertical continuity. When fuels are mostly vertically continuous, we call this a fuel ladder, or a ladder to transport fire into the forest canopy.

Levels of Forest Fuels

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, October 05). Unit 2: Fuels Classification. 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