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US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Southwestern Ponderosa Pine Fire Findings Published

Snapshot : In 2010, the Rocky Mountain Research Station published ground-breaking findings on fire behavior in southwestern ponderosa pine forests. Using tree-ring data, researchers were able to reconstruct forest fire regimes back to 1495.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Block, William M.  
Research Location : Saguaro National Park
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2010
Highlight ID : 254

Summary

In 2010, the Rocky Mountain Research Station published ground-breaking findings on fire behavior in southwestern ponderosa pine forests. Using tree-ring data, researchers were able to reconstruct forest fire regimes back to 1495. This historical perspective showed that certain ponderosa pine/oak forests had both surface fires and stand-replacing fires. Stand-replacing fires, occurring on steep slopes, were found to often fragment the continuity of flammable fuels and subsequently lead to longer fires intervals (up to 50 years longer between fires). This new information gives land managers greater understanding of how and when to introduce prescribed fire and manage lighting-ignited fires. This will have implications for restoration efforts and management decision-making. A fire ecologist for Saguaro National Park, where much of this research was located, offered the following perspective: 'This information has been very valuable to us in this section of the Park. The research shows that we should expect and should allow for some intense fire there. It is also important to have this scientific data to inform our decisions as we look to manage fire and park resources, including the threatened Mexican spotted owl.'

Research Topics

Priority Areas

  • Wildland Fire and Fuels
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