Protecting the WUI in California: Greenbelts vs thinning for wildfire threats to homes
Keeley, Jon E.
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This study utilized native chaparral and sage scrub shrubs to evaluate the impact of light summer irrigation on live fuel moisture content (LFMC) and predicted fire behavior. As to be expected LFMC varied markedly throughout the year being over 100% in winter in all species and treatments but differed markedly by treatment in the summer and fall. For most species lightly irrigated plants had the highest LFMC in the summer and fall, followed by thinned treatments and controls. These differences in moisture content coupled with structural differences in the vegetation contributed to expected differences in flame length and rate of spread. Lightly irrigated native shrubs planted around homes can reduce fire hazard and at the same time increase faunal diversity and other desirable features of utilizing native vegetation.