The fuel conditions in the Hungry Creek project were extremely heavy. For the most part the accumulated fuels were the result of several decades of successful fire suppression. Historically, low-intensity fires burned about every 5-10 years in the mixed-conifer forest type.

In the absence of frequent low-intensity fire that is characteristic of the mixed conifer forest type, shade-tolerant white fir (Abies concolor) became well established and the number of trees per acre exceeded 400, thereby creating an understory "fire ladder" that would readily carry ground fire to the tree crowns.

The drought of the late 1980's and 90's in combination with fir engraver beetles caused many of the white fir to die. The dead fir trees created an excessive fuel load-- that would one day contribute to a stand replacing fire.


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Ladder fuels comprised of mainly of white fir trees create impenetrable conditions preventing light from reaching the forest floor.
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Mixed among the fuels were scattered large, older ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and Douglas-fir (Psuedotsuga mensiesii). When a fire started in this forest, with these fuel conditions, all trees and wildlife habitat could be at risk.
  Ladder fuels including incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) along with the white fir, as well as dead standing small trees and ground fuels contributed to a very heavy fire hazard.  
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Fuel accumulations in the 100 hour fuel class (dead and down logs that are greater then 3 inches) contributed to an average of 25 tons per acre.
Concentrations of dead snags created considerable challenge for the loggers. Snags of varying size were also retained to provide for wildlife habitat.
Fuel in the 1 and 10 hour class (< 3 inch) were also abundant.
Removal of the down logs and other fuel resulted in over 60,000 tons of biomass being removed. The biomass was enough to create 30,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for 30,000 homes for a month.