Weather Conditions Inform Timing of Prescribed Fire

Prescribed fires generate smoke, which can harm human health – especially in areas where humans and forests are close together. “Weather conditions are critical for prescribed fire, especially the effects of wind and humidity on smoke plume formation,” says Yongqiang Liu, USDA Forest Service research meteorologist. Liu is the lead author of a modeling study…  More 

SRS Contributes to Fourth National Climate Assessment

Long hours, lots of reading, and collaborating with fellow scientists around the world is some of what goes into overseeing a chapter for the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). SRS senior research ecologist James Vose was a federal coordinating lead author and chapter lead for Chapter 6 – Forests of the NCA4. SRS senior economist…  More 

Using Prescribed Fire to Restore and Sustain Oak Ecosystems

Used incorrectly, fire can degrade wood quality and its value as timber. When should managers use prescribed fire in hardwood stands? “I field a lot of questions from state and local partners about the long-term effects of using prescribed fire in hardwood stands,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Callie Schweitzer. Schweitzer has spent her career…  More 

Firefighting Class of 2018

A few hundred feet from the Davidson River in North Carolina, 20 young people sit in a classroom. It’s no ordinary class – it’s the Davidson River Initial Attack Crew in the making. The students are in the advanced wildfire management program at Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, operated by the USDA Forest Service.…  More 

The State of the Nation’s Forests

Forests are constantly changing with weather, disturbance, and conversion to other land uses, but how do we know if year-to-year changes are just a one-off or part of a larger shift? Annual summaries of forest health are key to our understanding, say the editors and authors that produced Forest Health Monitoring: National Status, Trends, and…  More 

Reptiles and Amphibians Unharmed by Prescribed Fires in Early Growing Season

Amphibians and reptiles tend to be most active during the spring and summer, when it’s warmer. A recent USDA Forest Service study compared how herpetofauna respond to prescribed fires conducted during the growing season – when vegetation is actively growing – versus those in dormant season months. “Historically, prescribed burning has been limited to the…  More 

Megafires, Wildland Fires, and Prescribed Burns

Healthy forests are important for clean and abundant water supplies. A recent USDA Forest Service study examined how wildland fires, including megafires, and prescribed burns affect river flow. The study is the first nationwide look at fire impacts on surface freshwater resources. Led by Dennis Hallema, research hydrologist and ORISE fellow, the research team analyzed…  More 

Post-Fire Mortality for Southern Hardwoods

Drive down Highway 7 in northern Arkansas, winding through the Ozark National Forest, and you may glimpse evidence of recent fire: scorched grass, darkened tree bark, maybe even a lingering wisp of smoke. Traces of prescribed burning can be seen throughout the South. Prescribed fire is a critical tool for forest restoration. A new study…  More 

Prescribed Fire and Snags in Shortleaf Pine Woodlands

“I’ve spent years working in these shortleaf pine woodlands and always wondered about the availability of snags, especially given their importance to bats,” says U.S. Forest Service research wildlife biologist Roger W. Perry. Perry is talking about 250,000 acres on the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Efforts to restore shortleaf pine woodlands have…  More 

Drier Weather, Drier Fuels

Dry weather – and huge wildfires – are common. “Climate change would modify fuel moisture and wildland fires dramatically across the United States,” says Yongqiang Liu. Liu is a U.S. Forest Service research meteorologist who recently investigated climate impacts on fuel moisture. His study was published in the journal Ecohydrology. Weather quickly influences fuel moisture…  More