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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Tailoring Prescribed Fire for the Private Landowner

Photo of Longleaf pine stand after a controlled burn. Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest ServiceLongleaf pine stand after a controlled burn. Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : The fate of the Range-Wide Conservation Plan for Longleaf Pine will be determined by private landowners' willingness to commit to longleaf pine as a species of choice. Research is being conducted to tailor prescribed fire so that growth losses are not a routine cost of repeated burning.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Sword Sayer, Mary Anne 
Research Location : Winn Ranger District of the Kisatchie National Forest near Winnfield, LA
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 714

Summary

Fire every two to five years is a valuable tool for managing southern pines for many outcomes from restoration of the native ground-layer in longleaf pine ecosystems to the generation of wildlife habitat in mixed pine forests. Unexplained growth losses after fire are an accepted cost of multiple-use management on public land. Private landowners, however, are less willing to shoulder this cost. Long-term research on the Palustris Experimental Forest in Louisiana, revealed physiological mechanisms that sustain growth after severe crown scorch in spring. In partnership with Louisiana Tech University and Kisatchie National Forest, Forest Service researchers validated these adaptations to fire and assessed their effectiveness under spring and fall burning scenarios. Sapling longleaf pine experienced accelerated photosynthesis and rapid foliage regrowth after either spring or fall burning. However, amounts of stored carbohydrate in the stem, terminal branch, and taproot differed by fire season. Although spring burning led to normal starch accumulation, fall burning diminished starch storage. This suggests the carbon demanding processes in fall-burned saplings are highly dependent on current photosynthate, and tree growth may suffer in the subsequent year after fall burning when conditions such as drought reduce photosynthesis.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Fire Management Officers Larry Kile and Dustin Dill
  • KNF Winn Ranger District Silviculturist Brian Rudd
  • Kisatchie National Forest Forest Supervisor Eddie Taylor
  • Dr. Dylan Dillaway, Assistant Professor, Unity College.
  • Dr. Mark Gibson, Director, School of Forestry, Louisiana Tech University
  • Dr. Michael Tyree, Assistant Professor, Indiana University of Pennsylvania