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Project ID: 09-1-01-2

Year: 2009

Date Started: 10/01/2009

Date Completed: 05/06/2013

Title: Does Season of Burning Affect Fuel Dynamics in Southeastern Forests?

Project Proposal Abstract: Land managers in the southeastern United States have actively used prescribed fire, primarily in the winter or dormant season, as a tool to control growth of understory vegetation since the middle of the last century. There is evidence, however, that burning during the growing season may have different, and in some cases more desirable effects on ecosystem processes, vegetation structure, vegetation composition and, by virtue of these factors, understory fuels. We propose to conduct an experiment to document and test for potential differences in the rate of fuel re-growth and accumulation following prescribed fires during the dormant and growing seasons. In other words, as a fuel reduction treatment, do growing season prescribed fires have a different lifecycle than dormant season prescribed fires? We will attempt to test the hypotheses that fuels re-grow and accumulate more slowly following growing season fires, and that growing season fires change the structure and composition of the understory fuelbed to a larger degree when compared to dormant season fires. The proposed study will measure fuel amount and composition annually following dormant and growing season prescribed fires for approximately three years in flatwoods ecosystems in two locations. This study will attempt to confirm anecdotal observations that fuel reduction from growing season burns last longer, and also that the structure and composition of the post-fire fuelbed differs between growing season and dormant season fires. Confirmation of these observations would allow fire managers to potentially lengthen the interval between fuel-reduction burns enabling treatment of more area as well as to employ more effective treatments for restoring the structure and composition of understory fuels in flatwoods communities that have experienced a departure from desirable, historical conditions. Where they are actively managed, flatwoods are treated with prescribed fire on a short-interval rotation, thus, despite its relative brevity, this study will provide a useful estimate of potential differences between dormant season and growing season prescribed burning at a timescale that is relevant for management.

Principal Investigator: Clinton S. Wright

Agency/Organization: Forest Service

Branch or Dept: PNW-Seattle-Managing Natural Disturbances

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Robert E. Vihnanek

Forest Service

PNW-Seattle-Managing Natural Disturbances

Federal Cooperator

Clinton S. Wright

Forest Service

PNW-Seattle-Managing Natural Disturbances

Federal Fiscal Representative

Tamatha S. Verhunc

Forest Service

PNW-Pacific Northwest Research Station

Technical Contact

Laura L. Burris

Forest Service

PNW-Pacific Northwest Research Station

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Apalachicola National Forest




St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge




Other Federal Lands

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
  go to website 3602 Journal Article Forest Ecology and Management
view or print   5537 Photo Prescribed burning on the Apalachicola National Forest
view or print   5538 Photo Prescribed fire burning in longleaf pine forest
view or print   5539 Photo Prescribed fire smoke in a longleaf pine forest
view or print   5540 Photo Measuring Fuels in the Flatwoods
view or print   5541 Invited Paper/Presentation Cronan presentation at 2012 AFE conference, Portland, OR
view or print   5542 Invited Paper/Presentation Cronan presentation at 2013 IAWF conference
  go to website 5590 Website Website for JFSP 09-1-01-2

Supporting Documents

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