Development of a Small, Semi-Autonomous Vehicle for Reducing Fuels in Forests
Small Business Information
121 Sweet Ave.;P.O. Box 440902, Moscow, ID, 83844
AbstractHuman activities have allowed uncharacteristically dense forests of small diameter trees to develop. Fires, which are now suppressed, historically thinned these forests, reducing stand densities by removing weak and suppressed trees. Also, because the species harvested (ponderosa pine western larch, and western white pine) were more resistant to native diseases and insects than the remaining firs and hemlocks, the present forests occupying the inland West are prone to epidemic insect and disease outbreaks as well as catastrophic stand replacing fires. Mechanical means of reducing the forest density before fire is applied appears to have the greatest likelihood of success and may be the safest and cheapest way to improve these "unhealthy" forest conditions. Unfortunately, the large equipment presently used for timber harvesting is expensive and usually not cost effective when used with small diameter trees. The large equipment also causes environmental degradation. Low impact, efficient, safe equipment that could be used to remove and/or redistribute these materials before applying fire would not only benefit the resource but would also help support local economies. The development of specialized timber harvesting equipment that could reduce fuel loads at the lowest possible cost is urgently needed. The purpose of this project is to develop a small, semi-autonomous vehicle for reducing fuels in forests.
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