Big Box Burning
Background: Hazardous fuels are a major problem on wildlands throughout the West. Foresters traditionally pile and burn material from fuels reduction projects, but air quality restrictions and longer fire seasons have made open pile burning much more difficult. As a result, hazardous fuels sit on the ground longer and piles near the wildland–urban interface and in high value watersheds may go unburned for years, resulting in large quantities of fuel (Hessburg et al., 2007) and potential soil damage when burning does happen. A better alternative is to pyrolyze the material (Busse et al., 2013) in simple biochar kilns to extend the burning season, lower the risk of fire escape, reduce soil damage, and sequester carbon.
Objective: Reduced hazardous fuels will eventually reduce the amount and intensity of wildfires. Containing fuel burning inside a metal box can allow treatment under restricted smoke dispersal conditions and when weather conditions are too extreme to allow open burning. It also allows burning in relatively close proximity to heavy fuels, structures, and within Stream Management Zones because the fire is contained. Burning in containers of this size minimizes soil damage when compared with pile burning, and soil conditions can improve by using the biochar produced on-site. The objective of this project is to allow for the treatment of areas that are currently very difficult to address because of proximity to homes, infrastructure, and streams.
Partners: USU Forestry Extension, Southeast Area of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands, Logan Ranger District, Heber-Kamas Ranger District of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah Biomass Resources Group.