NJ Forest Service uses Forest Vegetation Simulator

Bill Zipse, NJ State Forest Service

The Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) from the US Forest Service, was used to simulate the effects of different combinations of different forest management treatments across the whole wildlife management area.  The fire and fuels extension of FVS was particularly effective in evaluating thinning and burning treatments in relation to wind speeds likely to carry a crown fire for pitch pine (Pinus rigida) stands adjacent to retirement communities on the west side of the wildlife management area.  Residents of the retirement communities were concerned about wildfire risk, however they still wanted to maintain the park-like aesthetics of the forest that they live next to.

Different combinations of thinning and prescribed burning were simulated along with a no action alternative.  The results were then tested against a simulated wildfire and the treatments’ response to the fire were evaluated.  A combination of thinning from below and prescribed burning proved to be the best simulated alternative for meeting all stakeholder objectives. This combination of activities also demonstrated longevity, with the effects of a single thinning having measurable impacts on crown fire risk for decades into the future, making this treatment a good value economically.

FVS is a collection of simulation models made freely available by the US Forest Service.  More information and downloads of the software are available at: https://www.fs.fed.us/fmsc/fvs/.