Mechanical treatments, those treatments which involve machines to accomplish objectives, are essential to the protections of communities, resources, and the ecosystem. Mechanical treatments are those projects involving the use of anything motorized such as chainsaws, dozers, and/or chippers. Mechanical treatments are often most appropriately used in areas in or direct surrounding communities as well as in combination with other types of treatments.
There are two primary ways in which mechanical treatments are utilized in reducing the hazards posed by wildfire:
- In forested areas, trees may be thinned to reduce density. The resulting fuels from thinning are often piled and burned using prescribed fire. Thinning activities may also provide an opportunity for biomass utilization of the material.
- In forested and other areas, the lower tree limbs may be removed to reduce ladder fuel buildup. Ladder fuels, consisting of dense vegetation near the ground and extending up the tree, increase the likelihood of fire reaching the crowns of the trees. Crown fires are more intense, harder for firefighters to suppress, burn hotter, faster, and result in more devastating effects. In effort to reduce the potential of crown fire, ladder fuels may be mechanically treated. After mechanical treatments, the fuels may be treated with prescribed fire or undergo biomass utilization.