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Sacramento, California

Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5185

The Role of Fuel Breaks in the Invasion of Nonnative Plants

Prepared in cooperation with the
Joint Fire Science Program

By Kyle E. Merriam, Jon E. Keeley, and Jan L. Beyers

Executive Summary

Fuel reduction projects have become an increasingly important component of state and federal fuels management programs. However, an unintended result of some pre-fire fuel manipulation projects may be the introduction of nonnative invasive plants. The establishment of nonnative plants within fuel breaks is a serious concern because the presence of invasive species in areas treated to reduce fuels could make adjacent wildland areas more susceptible to invasion, particularly following widespread disturbances such as fires. This report presents the results of a research project investigating the relationship between fuel reduction treatments and the invasion of nonnative plants. Throughout the rest of this document, we will collectively refer to these treatments as fuel breaks, although we sampled a range of fuel breaks described variously as fuel breaks, shaded fuel breaks, defensible fuel reduction zones, defensible fuel profile zones, fuel reduction projects, fuel management zones, wildfire protection zones, and community protection zones.


Executive Summary
Chapter One: Overall Results
Chapter Two: Vegetaion Type Differences
Coniferous Forest
Mixed Oak Woodlands
Coastal Scrub
Chapter Three: Site Specific Results
Chapter Four: Summary
Literature Cited

This report is available online in Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader, it is available for free download from Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Download the report (PDF, 2.75 MB)

Document Accessibility: Adobe Systems Incorporated has information about PDFs and the visually impaired. This information provides tools to help make PDF files accessible. These tools convert Adobe PDF documents into HTML or ASCII text, which then can be read by a number of common screen-reading programs that synthesize text as audible speech. In addition, an accessible version of Acrobat Reader 8.0 for Windows (English only), which contains support for screen readers, is available. These tools and the accessible reader may be obtained free from Adobe at Adobe Access.

Send questions or comments about this report to the author, Kyle E. Merriam, (530) 283-7777.

For more information about USGS activities in California, visit the USGS California Water Science Center home page.

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