Survivability and Deterioration of Fire-Injured Trees in the Northern Rocky Mountains : A Review of the Literature

Document Type

Full Issue

Journal/Book Title/Conference

USDA Forest Service, Northern Region, Forest Health Protection, Report #2000-13

Publication Date



The wildfire season of 2000 will be recorded as one of the most widespread and damaging in recent history. As such, it will unquestionably have both short- and long-term effects on management activities in forested stands of the intermountain West. Some of those effects may be initiation of bark beetle or other insect outbreaks. In some cases, existing outbreaks may be prolonged. It will be important to determine to the extent possible which trees are likely to succumb to fire damage, which might survive fire effects but be killed by bark beetles, and which others may be more susceptible to fungal infection and degradation. The sooner those assessments can be made and preventive or corrective measures implemented, the more successfully adverse effects or economic loss will be avoided. Research conducted in the Northern Rocky Mountains within the past two decades can make prognoses of tree survival and appropriate management responses more effective. Ryan (1982, 1989) has shown that trees survive the effects of fire in relation to damage to crown, stem, or roots. Further, the amount of damage individual trees can sustain and still survive is dependent upon characteristics of its species (needle length and bark thickness), its size (diameter and height), and site factors on which it is growing. Research by Ryan, Harrington and Reinhardt has provided helpful means of predicting post-fire mortality based on species-specific characteristics (Ryan and Amman 1994, Harrington 1996, Reinhardt and Ryan 1989).


This item was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain. Report can be accessed online through the US Forest Service.