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Project ID: 06-3-1-35

Year: 2006

Date Started: 08/31/2006

Date Completed: 12/20/2010

Title: A Comparison of Presettlement Vegetation and Fire Regimes with Current Patterns in Oak Woodlands and Shrublands of SW Oregon

Project Proposal Abstract: Fuel reduction efforts on BLM lands are motivated by the need to reduce fire hazard and restore and rehabilitate ecosystems. Successful ecosystem restoration depends, in part, on understanding the target: what ecosystem model is considered natural and healthy for a given area? Oak woodlands and shrublands are two of the most characteristic ecosystems in interior valleys of southwest Oregon, and extensive acreages within these systems are treated annually for fuel reduction. However, these are also two of the least understood ecosystems in the region. We know little about their presettlement attributes, responses to disturbance, or successional relationships. We propose a study that will provide insight into historical patterns of vegetation in interior valleys of southwest OR, dating back to the time of initial settlement by Europeans. We will analyze changes in vegetation between the pre-fire suppression era and the present, examining in particular the direction and magnitude of change in vegetation that is considered to be fire dependent, particularly oak woodlands and shrublands. Results will advance our understanding of the relationships of plant communities to fire, and will also allow us to assess the degree to which current fuel reduction prescriptions reflect past burn regimes. Several sources of historical information on vegetation and fire will be used, including: (1) General Land Office (GLO) surveys, usually from - 1870-1890; (2) GLO survey plat maps; (3) Homestead Patent Application maps (- 1905-1915); and (4) Donation Land Claim surveys (mid-1800's). Standardized methods of interpreting these sources exist and will be used in the proposed work. Resultant maps of presettlement vegetation will be digitized allowing comparison with GIS layers of current information on vegetation, soils, and other site attributes. Proportions of the landscape falling in various vegetation types will be compared quantitatively between the past and the present. We will also analyze BLM fire maps in relationship to current vegetation patterns, and analysis of age and size structures for oaks and shrubs will provide further insights into fire regimes over the past century. Enhanced understanding of past and current fire regimes is consistent with the goals of JFSP AFP 2006-3, Task 1, which focuses on fire regimes. Our research will focus on two ecosystems that the JFSP Board has expressed particular interest in under this Task: deciduous forests (here as oak woodlands) and shrublands. Results will enhance the ability of land managers to focus on fuel reduction prescriptions that can be justified both on the basis of hazard reduction and ecosystem restoration and to communicate their rationale to the concerned public. In addition, the digitized and computerized data on historical and current fire and vegetation will provide valuable baseline information against which future changes in vegetation or disturbance regime can be assessed.

Principal Investigator: Patricia S. Muir

Agency/Organization: Oregon State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Botany & Plant Pathology

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Paul Hosten

NPS-National Park Service

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Federal Cooperator

Douglas Kendig

BLM-Bureau of Land Management

Medford District Office

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network










Medford District

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
view or print go to website 1605 Government Publication To Thin or Not to Thin: Assessing the Consequences of Fuel Reduction Treatments for the Non-Coniferous Ecosystems of Southwestern Oregon
    1609 Government Publication Seed Obligate Shrublands of Jackson County and Surrounding Areas
  go to website 1695 Government Publication Recent (5 to 30 Years) and Historic Changes in Plant Community Composition in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Southwest Oregon
    904 Government Publication Patterns of Vegetation Change in Grasslands, Shrublands, and Woodlands of Southwest Oregon
  go to website 905 Government Publication Patterns of Vegetation Change in Grasslands, Shrublands and Woodlands of Southwest Oregon
    1447 Government Publication Historical Vegetation of Central Southwest Oregon, Based on GLO Survey Notes
  go to website 3136 Journal Article Stand Structures of Oregon White Oak Woodlands, Regeneration, and Their Relationship to the Environment in Southwestern Oregon
view or print   2468 Journal Article Madrono
  go to website 3316 Journal Article Vegetation change from the Euro-American settlement era to the present in relation to enviornment and disturbance in southwest Oregon
view or print   3238 Journal Article Fire Ecology
view or print   3260 Journal Article Fire Ecology
view or print   172 MS Thesis Stand Structure of Oregon White Oak(Quercus garryana) Woodlands and Their Relationships to Environment in Southwestern Oregon (L.A. Gilligan)
view or print go to website 250 MS Thesis Chaparral History, Dynamics, and Response to Disturbance in Southwest Oregon: Insights from Age Structure (O.C. Duren)
view or print go to website 299 MS Thesis Vegetation Response to Seasonality of Prescribed Fire and Postfire Seeding Following Mechanical Fuel-Reduction Treatments in Oak-Chaparral (C.T. Coulter)
  go to website 206 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Stand Structure of Quercus garryana-Dominated Woodlands in Relation to Environment and Disturbance History in Southwestern Oregon
    168 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Are Current Management Practices Compatible With Chaparral, Oak and Riparian Ecology in Southwestern Oregon?
    434 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Stand Structure and Disturbance Effects in Southwestern Oregon Quercus garryana-Dominated Woodlands
  go to website 723 Website Website has been revised to reflect additional work since it was originally launched ~ 2 years ago.
    700 Invited Paper/Presentation Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana) Woodlands in Southwestern Oregon: Using Stand Structures to Assess Their Current Condition, Interpret the Past, and Better Manage for the Future
    721 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Oregon White Oak Woodland Stand Structures in Southwestern Oregon: Insights Into Recruitment Trends and Implications for Restoration and Management
  go to website 3121 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Born of Fire: Chaparral Age Structure as a Clue to Disturbance Regimes and Vegetation Community Change in Southwest Oregon
    4595 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Cows, Fire Suppression, and Fuels Mitigation
    3975 Invited Paper/Presentation Born of Fire: Chaparral Age Structure as a Clue to Disturbance Regimes in Southwest Oregon
    3976 Poster Considering Spatial and Temporal Change in Southwest Oregon Garry Oak Communities as a Basis for Restoration
view or print   6693 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Like No Other: Southwest Oregon Chaparral and the Challenge of Conservation
    6694 Field Demonstration/Tour Field Trip in Chaparral of Southwestern Oregon, for the Siskiyou Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon
view or print   6697 Photo Large, Old Arctostaphylos viscida
view or print   6698 Photo Quercus garryana Woodland
view or print   6699 Photo Sanded Stem Cross Section of Arctostaphylos viscida
view or print   6700 Photo Typical High Density Chaparral Stand
view or print   6701 Photo 2. Looking Northwards Towards Ashland (Southwest Oregon), July 1915
    6576 Invited Paper/Presentation Chaparral Age Structure in Southwest Oregon: Do Fuels Treatments Reproduce Historic Dynamics and Response to Disturbance?
    6577 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Stand Structure and Disturbance Effects in Southwestern Oregon Quercus garryana-Dominated Woodlands
    6620 Invited Paper/Presentation General Assumptions About the Non-Conifer Landscape Result in Poor Restoration Ojbectives Within Southwest Oregon Chaparral and Woodlands
    5679 Conference/Symposia/Workshop 150 Years of Landscape-Level Vegetation Change in Southwest Oregon and the Roles of Environment and Disturbance
    5680 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Fire Suppression in Southwest Oregon Chaparral and Oak Woodland: Same Old Story of Woody Species Invasion?
    5703 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Vegetation Change from the Euro-American Settlement Era to the Present in Southwest Oregon
    5764 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Fuels Mitigation in Southern Oregon Chaparral Communities: Meeting Management Objectives
    5974 Invited Paper/Presentation Is Current Fuels Management Compatible With Chaparral and Oak Ecology in Southwestern Oregon?
view or print   5851 Photo 1. Looking Northwards Towards Ashland (Southwest Oregon), Taken in July of 1915

Supporting Documents

The following supporting documents are available for this project.

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