Root Diseases in Coniferous Forests of the Inland West : Potential Implications of Fuels Treatments

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After nearly 100 years of fire exclusion, introduced pests, and selective harvesting, a change in forest composition has occurred in many Inland West forests of North America. This change in forest structure has frequently been accompanied by increases in root diseases and/or an unprecedented buildup of fuels. Consequently, many forest managers are implementing plans for fuels treatments to lower the risk of severe wildfires. Impacts on root disease should be considered before selecting appropriate fuels treatments. Complex interactions exist among conifer root diseases, fuels treatments, forest structure, species composition, stand history, and other environmental factors. As forest managers prescribe fuels treatments, their success in lowering the risk of severe wildfire will depend in part on the impacts of these treatments on root disease. Root diseases are one of many factors to be considered when developing plans for fuels treatments. Choices must be made on a site-by-site basis, with knowledge of the diseases that are present. This paper provides examples of how fuels treatments may increase or reduce specific diseases and demonstrates their importance as considerations in the fuels management planning process. Several root diseases prevalent within Inland West of North America are addressed: Armillaria root disease, annosus root disease, laminated root rot, black stain root disease, Schweinitzii root and butt rot, Tomentosus root disease, Rhizina root rot, and stringy butt rot. For each disease, general information is provided on disease identification, management options, and potential effects of fuels treatments. However, many long-term studies are needed to assess effects of specific interactions among fuels treatments, root diseases, and host trees.


This item was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.