Controlling Eastern Redcedar: Mechanical Treatments or Prescribed Fire?
Science has shown that mechanical control of cedar has not performed up to expectations of controlling cedar invasion at desired scales. Mechanical treatments are expensive and target a single invasion stage. While, prescribed fire can target seeds, seedlings, small trees, large trees and stands in a single application. Mechanical methods have greater risks to users, while, prescribed fire has a risk of escape (less than 1% of all fires). Cedar control programs, should evaluate these options with regard to management goals and local conditions.
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[00:00:00.204](upbeat theme music)
[00:00:04.380]People will often ask, like,
[00:00:05.410]how can I control Eastern redcedar spread
[00:00:08.050]in abundance mechanically.
[00:00:09.890]And it's a great challenge,
[00:00:11.680]because mechanical is so expensive.
[00:00:14.050]So, if we start the question on
[00:00:16.060]how do we use mechanical control,
[00:00:18.490]it ignores that there's challenges of it working
[00:00:21.130]in the first place.
[00:00:22.080]Heavy machinery for high-density Eastern redcedar
[00:00:25.060]is so expensive, it only works on small areas.
[00:00:27.810]If you use hand shears or hand cutting,
[00:00:31.060]when trees are establishing,
[00:00:33.250]you're seeing an increase in landowner investment
[00:00:37.190]of time and effort,
[00:00:38.140]which of course time is money.
[00:00:39.800]So they're having to reduce their profit margins
[00:00:41.940]by managing something they didn't have to before.
[00:00:44.150]When we ask the question of
[00:00:45.650]how can mechanical equipment be used
[00:00:47.320]to control Eastern redcedar,
[00:00:49.160]the challenge is that science
[00:00:50.830]is now establishing that it's not as successful
[00:00:54.300]as it's been touted for 50 years.
[00:00:56.850]It's not working and performing up to expectations.
[00:01:05.160]There's new science that's coming out
[00:01:07.230]that shows how fire differs from mechanical control.
[00:01:10.650]If you have a fire that occurs in the system,
[00:01:13.180]it can consume seeds that were spread,
[00:01:16.710]it can consume seedlings
[00:01:18.710]that are hidden in the herbaceous layer,
[00:01:20.460]it can consume taller plants.
[00:01:23.490]It can consume multiple plants clustered together.
[00:01:26.790]So it can do everything from a seed
[00:01:29.100]to larger clusters of stands all together.
[00:01:32.570]No other technique does that, which explains why
[00:01:35.577]we were so sensitive to fire historically.
[00:01:38.180]Mechanical targets one of those.
[00:01:40.920]We often use mechanical on stands, so you clear a stand.
[00:01:44.700]And we don't do it on individual trees.
[00:01:46.840]Well, then seed sources are coming back in
[00:01:48.880]where there used to be a stand, and it rapidly recovers.
[00:01:52.040]We might cut individual trees with chainsaws,
[00:01:55.170]but it takes a lot more time
[00:01:56.840]and investment of money to do a stand.
[00:01:58.680]Haying actually works for seedlings,
[00:02:01.330]but they're often doing it, not knowing it controls cedar,
[00:02:04.440]but it's an added component.
[00:02:06.740]So, if you're actually gonna have a mechanically-based
[00:02:09.820]management strategy, you have to have hand cutting
[00:02:14.110]for seedlings, you might have patches that you can hay,
[00:02:18.100]but you can't get everywhere.
[00:02:19.150]You might use chainsaws,
[00:02:20.360]you might use heavy machinery that clears it.
[00:02:24.840]They only focus on one step of the process.
[00:02:33.720]Mechanical is much more dangerous given the data
[00:02:38.570]to practitioners and users, which is surprising to people.
[00:02:42.290]But even looking at US Bureau of Labor statistics,
[00:02:45.880]being a wildfire fighter has lower rates of fatal injuries
[00:02:50.650]than being a forester,
[00:02:52.360]being an agricultural producer or a rancher.
[00:02:54.820]And most of the fatal injuries are tied to heavy machinery.
[00:02:59.080]It's more dangerous to users.
[00:03:00.730]We know that a lot of people that
[00:03:03.060]do mechanical removal of cedar,
[00:03:05.950]have started to express the dangers to them as the operator.
[00:03:09.820]Now, fire, while safer to the operator,
[00:03:13.470]and much lower risks than even a wildfire fighter,
[00:03:17.010]much lower risks than what agriculture producers
[00:03:19.270]and ranchers do every day with heavy machinery,
[00:03:22.600]given the data, the perception of risk
[00:03:24.830]is tied to neighbors, is tied to other groups.
[00:03:27.770]So, those data are associated with rates of escape.
[00:03:33.850]So, rates of escape for prescribed fires
[00:03:36.870]in the private sector and with agencies
[00:03:38.990]are less than one percent of all prescribed fires,
[00:03:41.410]given the data that's out there, and the science.
[00:03:44.910]Prescribed fires are generally conducted
[00:03:46.800]in very low range of conditions
[00:03:49.240]that are meant to be controlled.
[00:03:50.930]So, even those escapes that get out,
[00:03:53.160]it's not like typical wildfire conditions of drought,
[00:03:56.010]high wind speeds.
[00:03:57.590]Prescribed fires are rarely done ever in a drought,
[00:04:01.470]and they explicitly today avoid high wind speeds.
[00:04:04.550]So, mechanical, more dangerous to operators,
[00:04:07.610]of course it's not going to pose a risk, typically,
[00:04:11.140]to your neighbors.
[00:04:12.552]Prescribed fire, safer for operators, but of course
[00:04:15.828]there's a greater risk of escape than mechanical.
[00:04:18.390]So, that's what groups are trying to balance here.
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