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Clinton S. Wright, Susan J. Prichard
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fire Behavior
Data Evaluation or Data Analysis for Fire Modeling
Fire Effects
Ecological - First Order
Fuel Consumption
Fuels Inventory & Monitoring
Sagebrush steppe

NRFSN number: 11419
FRAMES RCS number: 6745
Record updated:

Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) ecosystems typically experience stand replacing fires during which some or all of the ignited biomass is consumed. Biomass consumption is directly related to the energy released during a fire, and is an important factor that determines smoke production and the effects of fire on other resources. Consumption of aboveground biomass (fuel) was evaluated for a series of operational prescribed fires in big sagebrush throughout the interior West. Pre-burn fuel characteristics (composition, amount, and structure), fuel conditions (live and dead fuel moisture content), and environmental conditions (weather and topography) affected fire behavior and subsequent fuel consumption. Total aboveground biomass consumption varied from 1.6 to 22.3 Mg ha-1 (18 to 99 %) among the 17 experimental areas. Multiple linear regression and generalized linear modeling techniques were used to develop equations for predicting fuel consumption during these prescribed fires. Pre-burn fuel loading, which is influenced by season of burn, site productivity, time-since-last-fire, and grazing is the most important predictor of fuel consumption. Use of fire in big sagebrush is desirable for several reasons, including wildlife habitat improvement, livestock range improvement, fire hazard abatement, and ecosystem restoration.


Wright, Clinton S.; Prichard, Susan J. 2006. Biomass consumption during prescribed fires in big sagebrush ecosystems. In: Andrews, Patricia L.; Butler, Bret W., eds. Fuels management - how to measure success, conference proceedings. Proceedings RMRS-P-41. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p 480-500.