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Forest Thinning Project Requires Careful Elimination of Fuels

TitleForest Thinning Project Requires Careful Elimination of Fuels
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2004-11-02
Summary/DescriptionSegment 91 - "Forest Thinning" (Air Date: November 2, 2004). Forestry contractor David Theis discusses how the practice of forest thinning can lower the risk of catastrophic forest fires.
SubjectForest thinning -- Tahoe, Lake, Region (Calif. and Nev.)
LocationLake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.)
Tahoe, Lake (Calif. and Nev.)
CollectionThe Lake Tahoe Report
Original PublisherLake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (
Electronic PublisherUniversity of Nevada, Reno - Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies
Ordering and Permissions InformationFor more information, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, or 775-832-4138.
Date Digital2005-03-14
RelationRequires Windows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSegment 91: Masticator Air Date: November 2, 2004 Tease: @ 20:26 "It's amazing new technology to thin our overstocked forests. I'm Shelly Purdy, I'll have details in the Lake Tahoe Report." Anchor Intro: Thinning our overstocked forests is now recognized as one of the best ways to prevent catastrophic wildfires like the Waterfall Fire in Carson City this past summer. But thinning is traditionally done by hand, and it makes for very slow and difficult work. In tonight's Lake Tahoe Report, Shelly Purdy shows us another option. ((nats???)) ((Track 1)) It's called a masticator, and boy is it mean. It shreds huge trees in a matter of seconds and reduces them to chips. Those chips will eventually break down, passing nutrients into the soil and providing a mulch layer that helps keep in moisture. And the best part…(Tim add file here of burn piles) no slash piles are left behind to deal with later. When the masticator comes in and does its job…that's it. There is no more work required. Here's how it works. The operator guides the machine through the forest removing small under story trees or "ladder fuel" trees. The healthy, dominant trees are left intact and will thrive in a more open forest. ((sot @ 2:16 Dave Theis, Forestry Contractor)) "I put the head on the tree. There's a rotor on the head that turns at 200 rpms, has fixed hammers on it and will literally shred the tree in place." ((s/u@ 19:22 Shelly Purdy)) "You might think that bringing an excavator into the forest would create quite an impact, but these machines are specially designed to tread lightly on the land." ((sot @ 5:38)) "The impact is negligible first and foremost because the ground pressure applied by the machine is only 5.5 pounds per square inch, but also because the machine is never tracking over the same piece of ground. We come into a stand, work that area and when it's done, it's done." ((track 2)) The masticator can also chip material on the ground such as slash or downed trees. And it can cover an average of two acres a day. But for all its advantages, the masticator does have some draw backs. The machines are very costly, and there aren't many of them available in the United States. They are also loud, and some communities have complained about their noise. The reality is the masticator is just one tool forest officials can use to thin our forests and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires. With the Lake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, I'm Shelly Purdy for KOLO News Channel 8. Anchor Tag: The masticator you saw in Shelly's report is currently being used to create a fire break in the Tahoe National Forest.

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