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Fuel Reduction Cost Simulator (FRCS)


The Fuel Reduction Cost Simulator (FRCS) spreadsheet application is public domain software used to estimate costs for fuel reduction treatments involving removal of trees of mixed sizes in the form of whole trees, logs, or chips. FRCS can operate either on a single stand for which the user enters data on trees and other variables; or, through a batch processing procedure, on a large number of stands at one time. It can also be operated in “unattended batch mode” from external software such as SAS, Microsoft Access, or programs written in programming languages such as C++, C#, or Visual Basic. The latter capability facilitates the use of FRCS in conducting large-scale assessments.

Equipment production rates used in FRCS were developed from existing studies. Equipment operating cost rates are from December 2002 prices for new equipment and wage rates for the Pacific Northwest. In the three regional versions of the software currently available, the costs have been updated through December 2007 and modified as appropriate for each region. The costs may need to be further updated or modified by the user, and the download web page provides documentation with instructions on how to do so.


The Fuel Reduction Cost Simulator can be used to estimate the cost of operations involved in cutting trees and delivering logs or trees to a landing for further processing or handling. The software permits users to analyze any of four ground-based harvesting systems, four cable systems, and two helicopter systems. Cost estimates are in U.S. dollars per 100 cubic feet, per green ton, and per acre. FRCS uses an engineering cost approach to estimate costs for individual machines (Miyata 1980) and combines machines into systems by using the approach described in Hartsough and others (2001). FRCS includes the consideration of multiple products (logs and chips) and multiproduct systems including chipping tops, limbs, and small trees. The FRCS model was designed to focus on the kinds of systems and thinnings that are designed to address the buildup of fuels in forests that contribute to risk of uncontrollable wildfire.

There are three FRCS variants, North, South, and West. FRCS North is intended for use in the Northeast and North-Central regions, FRCS South is intended for use in the Southeast, and FRCS West is intended for use in the western US, including Alaska.


Information in the FRCS documentation is included to provide an understanding of system configuration and the situations being simulated; however, it was not our intent to provide the information needed to determine whether a particular system is appropriate for a particular situation. It is the responsibility of the user to get the technical and policy information needed to make that decision.


  • Hartsough, B.R.; Zhang, X.; Fight, R.D. 2001. Harvesting cost model for small trees in natural stands in the Interior Northwest. Forest Products Journal 51(4):54-62. Available for download at
  • Miyata, E.S. 1980. Determining fixed and operating costs of logging equipment. General Technical Report NC-55. USDA Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station, Houghton, MI. 16 p. Available for download.

Where to Get It

The Fuel Reduction Cost Simulator and its documentation can be downloaded at the Pacific Northwest Research Station website.