Contemporary wildfires are more severe compared to the historical reference period in dry conifer forests in the West

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Study results indicate, that as a proportion of area burned, contemporary fires experienced 2.9 to 13.6 times more stand-replacing fire (depending on the ecoregion) compared to the pre-colonization period. Non-wilderness areas exhibit somewhat higher prevalence of stand-replacing fire, relative to the historical fire regime, than wilderness areas (where logging is prohibited). The relatively small difference between non-wilderness and wilderness suggests that fuel accumulation resulting from fire exclusion has played a larger role than historical logging activities on the prevalence of contemporary stand-replacing fire. Prescribed fires do not exhibit a higher prevalence of stand-replacing fire compared to the historical fire regime.

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