Skip to main content
The Effect of Large Fire on Aspen Recruitment
Restoring the West Conference
  • Trenton Wilde
USU Eccles Conference Center
Event Website
Aspen (Populus tremuloides) is an important part of forests in the western U.S. In contrast to conifers, aspen stands have a diverse understory of vegetation beneficial to wildlife and numerous other organisms. Fire is important to seral aspen, because fire is a major catalyst for initiating new aspen growth in seral stands. Due to the fire suppression strategies of the last century, many seral aspen stands have become overgrown with conifers choking out the aspen. Most efforts to restore fire to the landscape have been limited to small treatment areas. Wildlife and cattle are attracted to burn areas because of the lush, palatable vegetation which is initiated after a fire. The 2000 Oldroyd Firea 1329 acre managed fire in central Utah, experienced complete clone failure due to grazing. It was hypothesized that larger treatment areas would lower grazing pressure on vulnerable aspen shoots resulting in better aspen recruitment. Aspen recruitment areas on the 1996 Pole Creek Fire- a 7113 acre wildfire twenty miles west of the Oldroyd Fire, were identified and mapped on the ground using GPS technology. Geographic information system software was used to identify and quantify potential aspen recruitment areas through the use of pre-fire aerial photography. The resulting data revealed that 71% of the potential aspen recruitment area of the large fire had achieved aspen recruitment. These results indicate a significant correlation between larger disturbance areas and increased aspen recruitment.

Trenton Wilde is an Associate Professor, Utah State University, Millard County Extension

Citation Information
Trenton Wilde. "The Effect of Large Fire on Aspen Recruitment" (2015)
Available at: