Fuel Loads and Simulated Fire Behavior in “Old-Stage” Beetle-Infested Ponderosa Pine of the Colorado Plateau

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Recent bark beetle outbreaks in western North America have led to concerns regarding changes in fuel profiles and associated changes in fire behavior. Data are lacking for a range of infestation severities and time since outbreak, especially for relatively arid cover types. Researchers surveyed fuel loads and simulated fire behavior for ponderosa pine stands of the Colorado Plateau 15–20 years after bark beetle infestation (i.e., “old-stage”). Increasing infestation severity resulted in reduced canopy bulk density, canopy base height, canopy cover, and litter loads whereas woody fuel loads were increased, especially among larger size classes.