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Project ID: 04-2-1-06

Year: 2004

Date Started: 08/06/2004

Date Completed: 11/09/2009

Title: Fire in Southern Appalachians: Fuels, Stand Structure and Oaks

Project Proposal Abstract: Managers responsible for maintaining the diversity and productivity of southern Appalachian forests are increasingly turning to prescribed fire as a management tool in oak dominated forests. The decision to use fire with increasing frequency and spatial extent is based, in part, on an emerging sense of the prehistoric significance of fire in this landscape and its potential to control the proliferation of fire-sensitive competitors in contemporary forests. While it is well documented that fire has been an important ecological force in southern Appalachian forests for a very long time, there has been little research to demonstrate that prescribed fire effectively controls fire-sensitive competitors, promotes regeneration of desirable species, or maintains and promotes healthy forest stands. In the face of increased management burning there is a need to address these questions, and to quantify the role of existing and residual fuels in fire management following repeated fire of differing intervals. This proposal addresses these knowledge gaps through studies that examine the effects of frequent and infrequent prescribed fire on stand structure, response of seedlings, recruitment, and residual trees, and fuels. We initiated a small study with limited university and Forest Service funding starting in 1995, and more recently initiated a more comprehensive study with JFSP funding. As part of the technology transfer component of our JFSP-funded project we held meetings with managers and researchers in which managers articulated the need for quantification of fuels and bole damage. As a result we incorporated measurements of fuels, bole damage, and health class of crowns into our study design prior to implementation of burning in 2003. By the time our JSFP funding cycle is over (in September 2004) we will have burned the `frequent' fire sites two times (2003 and 2004) and the `infrequent' fire sites once (in 2003). Funds for the proposed work would permit us to extend this locally and regionally important research to an increasingly meaningful duration that incorporates input from managers obtained from technology transfer activities in our current project. We propose to characterize stand structural changes and the resulting spatial variability in light regime created by frequent and infrequent prescribed fire, quantify the response of individual seedlings using large seedling population studies, and quantify seedling recruitment. We will also quantify fuel consumption and subsequent re-accumulation following fire, and examine the effects of fire on residual stems. This project builds on ongoing research and capitalizes on strong interactions between researchers and managers for the development of science delivery and application activities.

Principal Investigator: David Loftis

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: SRS-Bent Creek Experimental Forest

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Mary A. Arthur

University of Kentucky

Department of Forestry

Federal Cooperator

David Loftis

Forest Service

SRS-Bent Creek Experimental Forest

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network


Oak Woodlands


There are no project locations identified for this project.

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.")

  ID Type Title
    3027 Journal Article Characterization of Fuel Before and After a Single Prescribed Fire in an Appalachian Hardwood Forest
    3116 Journal Article Stand Structure Over Nine Years in Burned and Fire-Excluded Oak Stands on the Cumberland Plateau, Kentucky
    3645 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Overstory and Seedling Response to Repeated Fires in Eastern Kentucky
    3646 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Characterization of Fuel Before and After a Single Prescrbied Fire in an Appalachian Hardwood Forest on the Cumberland Plateau, Kentucky
    3647 Invited Paper/Presentation Toward an Ecological Understanding of Fire in Eastern Kentucky
    2729 Invited Paper/Presentation Toward an Ecological Understanding of Fire in Eastern Kentucky
    2730 Training Session Fire Ecology and Fire Research
    4424 Poster Prescribed Fires Affect Seedling Establishment and Survival in a Central Appalachian Forest
    4425 Poster Overstory and Seedling Response to Repeated Fires in Eastern Kentucky
    6900 Poster Landscape-Level Assessment of Prescribed Fire Effects on Oak Regeneration

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are available for this project.

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