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Individual Highlight

Fire in my hardwood forest... is my investment in my family's future lost

Photo of Fire damaged logs from the Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia were transported to the mill for processing and analysis of potential losses in volume and quality. Jan Wiedenbeck, USDA Forest Service.Fire damaged logs from the Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia were transported to the mill for processing and analysis of potential losses in volume and quality. Jan Wiedenbeck, USDA Forest Service.Snapshot : Does the idea "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" apply when a low- to medium-intensity wildfire or prescribed fire has run through a hardwood woodlot or forest stand Timing has a lot to do with the answer to this question: If the forest isn't harvested for several decades, or it is harvested in less than a year, your hardwood trees are likely to produce lumber products that are only minimally affected by the fire event.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Wiedenbeck, Janice (Jan) K.Schuler, Thomas M.
Research Location : West Virginia
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 619

Summary

Most studies on the effects of fire, both wildfire and prescribed fire, on hardwood species focus on mortality rates and tree quality. The effects of fire on wood product recovery, especially on the volume and value, are of interest to family forest owners, state and federal forest managers, and companies that own timberland. Loss in log value associated with fires of low to medium intensity appears minimal, based on visual inspection of standing trees 5 to 8 years after exposure to fire. In a study by Forest Service scientists, less than one-quarter of 1 percent (0.025%) of timber value was lost overall, due to cull caused by decay that resulted from injury from the heat of the fire. Red maple was the most prone to fire damage among the four species evaluated. Yellow-poplar had the lowest risk of injury due to its thick bark, which serves to insulate the wood. This assessment looked only at the boards most directly exposed to the fire's heat.