Estimating harvest costs for fuel treatments in the West by ProQuest

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The costs for harvesting timber for forest fire fuel reduction purposes were estimated for 12 states in the West. The Fuel Reduction Cost Simulator (FRCS) was used to estimate the costs for forest thinning with six harvesting methods, based on silvicultural guidelines designed to prevent spread of wildfire. These simulation inputs were used to estimate average costs for 12,039 Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plots in the West, and then that FRCS output was used develop regression equations that estimated costs as a function of small, medium, and large size trees per acre, as well as slope. Ground-based mechanical whole tree harvesting systems were cheapest in the areas where they could be used, with a mean cost of $620 per acre. The other three ground-based systems had mean costs ranging from $958 to $1,627 per acre. Cable yarder systems mean costs were much more expensive, at $2,794 and $3,535 per acre. Regression analysis for each harvest system indicated that costs per tree increased with larger diameter size and with steeper slope for ground based systems. The costs for cable yarder systems decreased with increasing slope, probably because they can yard the logs more easily with more leverage on steep hillsides. The results do indicate that fuel reduction harvests in the West are expensive, and provide magnitudes of these costs that can be used for planning and budgeting purposes for landowners and forestry professionals. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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