Southwestern Mixed Conifer Forests

Before Euro-American settlement of the West, fires in mixed conifer forests burned on intervals that averaged between eight and 25 years for the Sierra Nevada, Southern Rockies, and Southwestern mixed conifer. Low-severity fires were more frequent in some mixed conifer forests; but, in general, mixed conifer forests have historically tended to be heterogeneous mixtures in which species composition, forest structure, and fuel loads change over short distances. Since Euro-American settlement, many mixed conifer forests have become more homogeneous and can therefore facilitate larger, higher-severity fires than those that occurred historically. Increasing heterogeneity in mixed conifer forests at the landscape scale to approximate historic conditions is important for achieving many management objectives, from fuel reduction to wildlife habitat. Restoration and wildfire hazard reduction are not synonymous, but restoration treatments can reduce the risk of uncharacteristic high-severity fire, i.e., standreplacing
fire covering a large portion of the landscape. Read more in A comprehensive guide to fuels treatment practices for mixed conifer forests: California, Central and Southern Rockies, and the Southwest.