Population Health

May 27, 2020

Prescribed burns and thinning protected forests during the massive Washington wildfire

View near Loup Pass showing the impacts of the 2014 Carlton Complex wildfireThe 2014 Carlton Complex wildfire in north central Washington State was the largest contiguous fire in the state’s history. Flames spread over 160,000 acres of forest and rangeland in just a single day, ultimately burning more than 250,000 acres in the midst of a particularly warm and dry summer.

In the first major study following the devastating fire, researchers from the University of Washington and U.S. Forest Service found that previous tree thinning and prescribed burns helped forests survive the fire. Their study showed that even in extreme wildfires, reducing built-up fuels such as small trees and shrubs yields more desirable post-fire outcomes.

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