Mulching is the conventional fuel treatment method used in northern Alberta, but it can be quite costly. In areas where trees have little commercial or aesthetic value, removal of the entire stand using heavy equipment, such a dozers, may be an economical alternative.
Dozers are commonly used to convert forested land to farmland and have been used to prepare burned stands for reforestation (Cormier and Warren 1998). Generally, a dozer with a blade attachment knocks down standing timber and then pushes the debris into a pile or windrow. Sometimes called the blade-and-pile method, it is not typically used for fuel treatments because it leaves behind large piles, or windrows, of dead and drying woody debris, which can become a fire and smoke hazard. Nevertheless, the Alaskan government has been using dozers to clear large tracts of Black Spruce to mitigate the threat of wildfire (Butler et al. 2013, Ott 2005).
To determine whether the blade-and-pile method would be a viable option for Alberta, ESRD used the method to remove the trees from three blocks within the Mitsue Industrial Park FireSmart Project. ESRD contracted a Caterpillar D6 dozer with a blade attachment to knock down trees. The felled stems were later piled using a D7 dozer equipped with a brush rake. ESRD plans to burn the piles at a later date. This report summarizes the productivity of the Caterpillar D7 dozer during piling operations.