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Project ID: 13-4-01-3

Year: 2013

Date Started: 10/01/2013

Date Completed: 01/17/2015

Title: Long-Term Plant Responses to Four Fire Return Intervals in an Old-Growth Mixed Stand, Lower Piedmont GA

Project Proposal Abstract: Landowners on the Lower Piedmont from Alabama to Virginia face many challenges including reintroduction of fire after decades of exclusion, control of hardwoods that compete with more valuable pines and appropriate fire regimes for both even- and uneven- aged management. Old-growth stands with a loblolly/shortleaf overstory are becoming rare and there is much interest in perpetuating those that still exist, but achieving this goal requires the mandatory use of fire. The literature contains cautionary tales of failure that resulted in mortality of the overstory, but not a single success story. This dataset thus provides the only guidelines for safe reintroduction of fire on Piedmont sites. Another consequence of the fire exclusion policy was the misconception that fire had no place in the management of mixed pine/hardwood stands. But a growing number of landowners who have seen its multiple benefits on landscapes where it was used, now use it.These landowners have to decide what fire-return interval best meets their objectives, what season provides the best hardwood control, whether backfires are more effective than headfires, and the potential for further erosion on these deeply eroded sites. And those landowners who want to use uneven-age management have to also make sure the forest floor contains little duff and receives plenty of sunlight to facilitate pine regeneration and then ensure it is not fire-killed. This dataset will allow informed decisions to be made regarding all the above questions. This 50-ac study (FS-SE-4104-200 (2) was established on the Hitichiti Experimental Forest on the Lower Piedmont of Georgia in 1987. Twenty four 2-acre plots were established in a naturally regenerated 85-yr old loblolly/shortleaf stand with a substantial hardwood midstory and no history of fire after coming under federal jurisdiction in 1939. The five burn treatments (biennial winter headfire, triennial winter headfire, triennial summer backfire, 6-yr. winter backfire and 6-yr summer backfire) and a control were replicated four times in a randomized block design. The sampling scheme entailed a series of nested plots and line transects as well individually tagged overstory pines which were inventoried every autumn prior to leaf fall. Other information collected includes soil physics and chemistry, treatment effects on erosion, pre and post burn fuel weights, fire weather, fire behavior, crown damage, survival or recovery of damaged pines, undamaged pine growth responses, and pine seedling recruitment. All burns and surveys were conducted as scheduled through 2002 providing 15 years of data on subjects the user community, especially small landowners, foresters, wildlife biologists and ecologists continue to be interested in.

Principal Investigator: Dale D. Wade

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: SRS-Southern Forest Experimental Station

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Joyce M. Gorgas

Forest Service

SRS-Southern Research Station

Budget Contact

Shelly M. Gates

Forest Service

SRS-Southern Research Station

Funding Cooperator

Scott L. Goodrick

Forest Service

SRS-Ctr for Forest Disturbance Science

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

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