Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management (SNAMP)
Millions of acres of Sierra Nevada forest are endangered by wildfire. The USDA National Forest Service’s 2004 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amendment calls for managing the forest using the best information available to protect forests and homes. Vegetation management treatments called strategically placed land area treatments (or SPLATs) are planned or being conducted in several places in the Sierra Nevada where fire risk is high.
SPLATs are a forest management approach based on the theory that disconnected fuel treatment patches (e.g. forest thinning) that overlap in the direction of head-fire spread reduce the overall rate and intensity of fire, benefiting the entire landscape. Simulations have shown that with 30% of the area in SPLATs, fire risk can be decreased for the entire landscape. But there is uncertainty regarding their efficacy in modifying fire behavior and concern regarding potential impacts on wildlife, large-scale forest health and water resources.
The Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project is a joint effort by the University of California, state and federal agencies, and the public to study management of forest lands in the Sierra Nevada. A team of university scientists has agreed to act as an independent third party, researching the effects of vegetation management treatments implemented by the Forest Service on fire risk, wildlife, forest health, and water in two areas in the Sierra Nevada. Results will be used to improve forest management in the future. A lasting solution must engage stakeholders and promote active public participation in all phases of the process, including the development, interpretation, and incorporation of research-based information in the adaptive management decision making process. My group is involved in both the spatial analysis work and public participation efforts. Our two study areas are located in the Sierra National Forest and the Tahoe National Forest.